Monday, 2 November 2015

The Four Cs of Teaching

When we teach, we are usually setting out to convey specific things to our learners. There is always a tension between 'just thinking', the scholarship we hope to instil, and applied outcome we desire.

When teaching, I set out to mentor my learners so they hone their own learning processes, to get better and better - more adaptive - at their own learning, regardless of their particular learning goals. Then, regardless of whether they just want to think, want to continue learning, or whether they want to do something practical after the course, they can be self-determining in their personal role of thinker, dreamer, or doer.

Matthew Roberts (2015) wrote a very interesting blog post about the act of teaching which resonated with me, detailing four areas of teaching which he proposed as curation, content delivery, certification and coaching.

I have called these the four Cs of Teaching - as I like mnemonics (and Matthew didn't call this model anything) (Roberts, 2015):

  1. Matthew proposed that the first C, curation, was developing learning outcomes, collecting relevant resources to clearly deliver those outcomes to our learners, and providing assessments that align with outcomes and resources so everyone is confident that learning has 'happened'. Appropriate curation is vital to ensure the desired learning takes place.
  2. The second C, content delivery, Matthew suggests is actually what most people mean by teaching. This is the front-end physical delivery in the classroom, as are textbooks, and journals. One person can deliver a lot of well-curated information to a great number of learners.
  3. C number three is certification, or, how we are sure that learning has taken place, and has stuck to the learners. This includes formative and summative assessments, grades, transcripts and qualifications. Assessment needs to be relevant, authentic, reliable and accurate... and, if certification only happens at the end, then it may be "too late to make any real improvement" without timely intervention of the last C.This too can be where good systems can check learning for a large number of people.
  4. The last C is coaching, which Matthew suggests is the "most ignored and the least glamorous" of the 4Cs. Coaching creates a partnership between teacher and learner: building a supportive, iterative and formative relationship where both parties can learn from each other. We can handle big numbers of students within the first three Cs, but this last essential ingredient is what transforms a mediocre talking-head into a great teacher. That individual dyad (partner) relationship needed for coaching clearly shows why one teacher cannot possibly meet the needs of thousands of MOOC students. There is simply not enough time to individualise the feedback needed for good, sticky learning to take place.
As Matthew said, "A good coach is known for the individual time they spend with each athlete, diagnosing their weaknesses, reinforcing their strengths, and offering customized remedial instruction in order to improve their performance" (Roberts, 2015).

True 'dat.


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