Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

I’m sick. After much denial and frustration, I finally went to the doctor. I really admire medical professionals. They know a lot! I saw five different people, had several data measured and tests conducted, and walked out with prescriptions to fill.

All alone in my doctor’s office room, I couldn’t help but think of the potential opportunities in this space. At least six North Carolina elementary science objectives directly (not to mention several indirectly) address the human body, and here I sit among highly-educated medical professionals in my community.

Go ahead–Click on this tweet to pop it out, and read these North Carolina elementary science essential standards and clarifying objectives:

These highly-skilled experts… Why aren’t THEY delivering content and instruction to my students? I mean, what does an elementary school teacher really know about how to: “explain why the skin is necessary for protection and for the body to remain healthy,” or more importantly, what concepts will a nine-year-old meaningfully learn, retain, and transfer from that classroom lesson? How well does the teacher understand medical content? To gain background knowledge, the teacher may:

  • Rely on a third-party publishing company’s textbooks, videos, or kits
  • Twitter-search the specific objective hashtag like: “#sci3L11” or “#sci5L12
  • Use what another teacher has already prepared, and most definitely
  • Google it!

Even after that, any background knowledge gained may not necessarily be well-thought, transferred to learning experiences, or applied through meaningful connections. As a result, some lessons may be taught in isolation, disjointed from the rest of the framework. After all, teachers have so many objectives for which to prepare.

Clearly, the teacher is NOT the expert. The teacher is the facilitator of learning. Educators and students learn together. But, to some extent, the teacher is also a curator of appropriate resources, search engines, or strategies for researching and finding information to foster investigation, expression, synthesis, evaluation, and problem-solving opportunities, not to mention the #4Cs of creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.

Many educators “bring in professionals to their classrooms” through guest-speaking and online opportunities. This is a special, personal experience. I wish we could do it every day. I wish my students could always learn directly from the experts in the field.

But with resources like time, personnel, and devices finite as they may be, there are no current strategies to sustain learning experiences like these, especially for every challenging standard and objective.

Yet, as I sat there in brief, isolated moments in the doctor’s office, I still wondered:

  • Is there a way to strengthen the bond between our community’s professionals and our schools?
  • Is there a way for teachers and experts in the field to collaborate more frequently and meaningfully?
  • What if there was a way for students to access media, especially videos, of local professionals speaking directly to them?
  • What if professionals in our community also knew our curriculum, and could address topics and info directly relating to specific curriculum objectives?
  • How much more meaningful would a two-three minute video about the specifics of skin, the skeletal system, and muscular system be coming straight from a community member?

I envision a database of sorts, where students, educators, parents, and learners alike could search topics, supplemented with brief videos created by professionals in their community, specified by curriculum objectives.

Now THAT would be a powerful resource!

The teacher could facilitate. The experts could deliver content. Learners could learn.

What are your thoughts? Comment here!

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