1. Know the school’s mission and the “unspokens.”
It’s important to know what the school’s mission is because, ultimately, the teacher’s mission is the school or district’s mission, said Hudson.
However, it’s equally important to know any unspoken associations with that mission. For example, many times when the school’s mission is “to ensure success for all students. We will do whatever it takes to ensure their success” the unspoken is: “…provided we don’t have to change the schedule, modify any of our existing practices, or adopt any new practices.”
Or, if the school’s mission is “It is our mission to help all students,” perhaps the unspoken is “…if they are conscientious, responsible, attentive, developmentally ready, fluent in English, and come from homes with concerned parents who take an interest in their education.”
“It’s important to know these bad habits before entering a school, so that way a teacher will know in what context blended learning might be used,” explained Hudson. “For instance, blended learning could be a way to change the schedule or existing practices and the school may be both excited and uncomfortable with this prospect.”
2. Know the school’s structure.
For Hudson, who wrote his thesis on why new teachers often leave teaching after five years, one of the biggest reasons new teachers leave quickly is because they don’t know how the school is structured and what their teaching practices mean on a larger scale.
“An ideal school structure would be a pyramid, with mission and vision as the base; followed by learning principles; then curriculum and assessment systems; then progress monitoring and instructional practices; then evaluation and PD; followed by personnel and hiring; with policies, structures, governance and resource allocation at the tip,” he described, “but for many schools, this pyramid is flipped and policies and resources come first.”
Hudson recommends that incoming teachers know what the school’s structure is like and how blended learning, as well as how much emphasis is placed on blended learning, fits into the structure.
“Schools should see blended learning as a means to an end to help accomplish the school’s mission, not as just another practice for technology’s sake.”
3. Know that pedagogy never goes away.
Many times, teachers and school leaders see blended learning as a way to give teachers free time, since the software included with blended learning often is both interactive and adaptive; however, this doesn’t mean students don’t need teachers.
“Blended learning means the pedagogy doesn’t disappear, it just transforms. Teachers become more of a facilitator rather than lecturer, and while that may save time, it doesn’t mean you don’t teach,” noted Hudson.
(Next page: Ways 4-7)