One possible solution for Teaching Complex Thinking - forming a PLC.
As we begin to express our solution we want to remind you that teaching is not a one size fit all career. It depends on your personality, subject matter, age group, school setting, and many other instances that could change how you teach. The point of the matter is that there are many teaching styles, but as long as learning is taking place and you believe it is in the best interest for the students then you are fulfilling your role. Therefore, our solution will help any teacher at any level, while acknowledging that the information may need to be adapted in order to address different school settings.
After great research for solving this wicked problem of teaching complex thinking we believe it to be best to form a Professional Learning Community (PLC). This community involves intense reflection that includes the six steps of studying, selecting, planning, implementing, analyzing, and adjusting with a group of teachers willing to collaborate and change these steps to norms for their teaching practice (Provini, 2012). In order to create a successful learning environment to promote complex thinking, teachers have already selected what they are observing, need to study what complex thinking is (Complex Thinking Defined), plan together how to better address what it should look like for a particular lesson, implement the plan, analyze together how they believed it went for the students and if it was successful, and then make adjustments. Making adjustments is key because in teaching we can always find problems or confusion during a lesson, but addressing that changes are to be made in order to create a better flow for the next time the lesson is being implemented. If we make the proper adjustments and are utilizing our PLC then we can create a more well-rounded solution with these different ideas from our colleagues in order to promote a better teaching practice for complex thinking.
Pedagogy is understanding how the methods of teaching and learning can be practiced or processed (Koehler). Within the PLC teachers are concentrating on what the pedagogy of their classroom is and how they can better practice how to implement complex thinking. According to Louis and Marks (1988),
“The presence of professional community in a school contributes to higher levels of social support for achievement and higher levels of authentic pedagogy,” (Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2006).
With this support group in place a teacher should surround themselves with a group of teachers that set the norms to promote the intense reflection that is needed to take place to teach complex thinking in the most meaningful way for their students. Again, with the PLCs it is not creating one solution it is a brainstorming process that allows different viewpoints from different teachers in order to create a better learning environment for the students.
Pedagogy will not be the only factor within the PLCs we will also need to contribute content and technology to create the best environment for teaching complex thinking, or another name is TPACK. TPACK allows all three of these knowledges from the teacher to interlock with each other, which creates an overlap of all three areas that promotes the effective teaching with technology (Koehler). Teachers that are able to combine these knowledges and implement the technology will be key components during PLC gatherings. In order to help promote complex thinking we need to promote technology as a tool and not as an answer. If we allow students to use technology to use as a google search we are not allowing the students to dive into the problem and become creative themselves. Einstein believes that we should not fill our brains with information that can be easily looked up (Berger p. 27, 2014). This should be our goal as teachers to find technology to help inspire the creativity that is necessary when teaching complex thinking. Complex thinking needs to have the human curiosity, creativity, and judgment in order to find answers to these tough problems presented in a lesson which is why technology should be used as a tool to explore and help to continue asking the questions, not answer all of our questions.
Therefore, the solution to complex thinking is very open ended, while utilizing the important impact of how a PLC collaborates together when solving the individual needs for each teacher. Teachers should create their PLC and brainstorm together in order to promote the best TPACK environments in their classrooms. If teachers are able to use Berger’s model of questioning why, what if, and how to help arrive to their solutions within their PLC this will promote more opportunities for complex thinking for their students (Berger, 2014). At the end of the day teachers are finding ways to promote learning for their students, by utilizing PLCs and setting norms to promote complex thinking when working together, we can help our students be successful.
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