Responses to SWBT Podcast

This week, we will listen to Will Richardson interviewed on the SWBT (So We've Been Thinking) podcast.

Will is a former secondary school educator who has become a proponent for innovative, student-centered education. And, as I will mention in class, he had a profound impact on my development as a teacher.

In this episode, he discusses: What should schools look like today & how can schools create environments that support learners in a modern, connected and information rich world?

Once you have listened to this episode, please write a response informed by these guiding questions:

1. What did you think about Will's conception of schools and learning?

2. What, if anything, really got your attention? Why?

3. What surprised you?

4. If you had a chance to ask Will questions, what would they be?

Now, it's time for you to participate in the discussion. Be bold!

    • Mike Tenzer

      By Mike Tenzer

      Will Richardson does an excellent job tackling the topic that is learning. While on the surface the idea of learning sounds so simple, some people may think it implies educating oneself on a specific topic or subject. But Will dives a lot deeper beneath the surface and explains to us that learning is so much more, it's a nonstop evolving concept that educators and teachers need to stay finely tuned with.

      Richardson believes that schools need to develop a better course of learning as it pertains to children. In modern society of technology Will explains that it is easy to lose sight of what is important and relevant, but one thing he specifies is that teachers need to understand how to make kids reach their potential when it comes to learning. Not only do teachers need to have the ability to educate, they also need to be able to relate to kids and keep their best interest in mind. A teacher who cares about their students success, is going to be a far better educator than a teacher who is all about drilling the subject matter into their brain; not that subject matter isn't important, but caring for the students may be equally as important.

      A lot of what Will covered really stood out to me, as I felt as though he had a really good understanding of what it means to be a teacher and how important learning is. His philosophy was driven by the fact that teachers need to be more mindful to developing children as learners, and not just teaching them material. As I take my journey to become a teacher, I think understanding concepts like Will's are important because it opens up my mind to reach farther outside of the box than what I am used to. I think his points about understanding your role as a teacher and what those responsibilities entail when it comes to learning are really important, and I think Will did a great job of emphasizing that.

      What stood out to me most was the fact that Mount Vernon was the example of a school that really stood out to him in terms of executing their mission for teachers to help kids learn better. I've always known Mount Vernon as not the greatest school system, with not the best students, and as a result, not many good teachers who willingly want to work there. I think it was fascinating to learn that they are the model school when it comes to adapting this new concept of learning. I think it is great for those children to have an opportunity to become a part of something so much bigger than learning about specific subject matter.

      Will seems like a very knowledgeable person who knows a lot about teaching. Seeing as though he mentioned that he had forty years of teaching experience, he probably went through a lot of different phases of learning styles while he was a teacher. So one of the main things I would want to ask him is, how was he able to adapt so quickly to new methods that school systems might have proposed. Additionally I would like to know, how did that result in him researching and studying his own personal teaching methods. Will seems to have a great grasp on the concept of learning so I would like to know how he was able to come to these conclusions in regards to the importance of this perspective of learning.

      • Zachary Powdermaker

        By Zachary Powdermaker

        I thought it was cool how Will stated that kids are focusing on how to do school rather than learning the material in each classroom. At this moment, I barely remember what I learned last semester and I feel like that is a huge issue. I would rather remember material from each class and enjoy learning rather than to worry about a paper that is due or a project that needs to be finished by that night. I feel that it is more important for kids to gain information from classes rather than just to do school  work in order to get a solid grade on a random paper or project.

        One thing that got my attention was how Will mentioned the idea of grouping kids not by age. I feel like you need to be with students around your own age due to the fact that it will be a better learning environment. I feel that with learning with students your age, it will be a more comfortable social environment for you and I feel like you will have a more comfortable classroom environment when you are surrounded by peers around your age. 

        What surprised me was that he mentioned common sense with students. I feel like many people these days lack common sense even though they are really good students inside the classroom. I feel like it is one of the most important factors for students and people to have common sense. Common sense will help someone get through everyday life much easier. 

        If I had a question it will be, "would it be beneficial to have a class that teaches you about life?" By this I mean that a class in high school, or even college, to discuss how to live such as learning how to make a resume, how to pay taxes, how to buy a house, etc. This class I feel would be so beneficial to many students because it will help students become responsible adults and will be one of the most important classes a student will need in order to succeed in life. 

        • Julia Vaccarelli

          By Julia Vaccarelli

          Will Richardson’s central focus for the discussion was, “how to do school and is learning really happening in schools?” He makes several points in which is addressed the role of the teacher, student involvement in the classroom, and collaboration. He seems quite knowledgeable on the topic and I was drawn to the podcast the entire time. He raised so many questions and had me thinking and wondering the entire time.

          Will’s questioning about why we group students the way that we do intrigues me. Why do we group students by age specifically? I remember watching a video in a previous TCH class and in that video, schools were compared to conveyor belts. We move kids along the line and this is quite literally what Will was talking about. We as educators are being trained to teach students to pass the exams and to make high marks, but what are they really learning at the end of the day? The students of today are learning how to pass school and move on.

          The role of the teacher in a classroom has to change. It is important for educators to understand learning at the deepest level. When making such changes, it is crucial that there is a clear vision in mind. Everybody needs to be collectively moving in the same direction. The same values and beliefs need to be instilled or else change cannot and will not occur.

          I, like Mike, was also quite shocked when Will mentioned Mount Vernon. I thought about it a little more and realized he must have been talking about Mount Vernon, Virginia because he did at one point mention Virginia. If I could ask Will anything, I would ask him if he ever thinks there will be a day where we do not group students by age in the United States.

          • Gina Corselli

            By Gina Corselli

            I believe Will Richardson did an excellent job at discussing learning in schools. He discussed various situations such as the student involvement and the teacher. In my other Teach classes, I have not been that interested in the podcasts assigned, however, I really dove deep into the understanding of this one.

            I truly believe that Will has an excellent point when he states that children are learning to do school rather than to learn. In other words, they are not learning, they are simply memorizing whatever is being assigned. I 100% believe in this ideology. Throughout high school and college I noticed that creativity and collaboration was not seen as much in classrooms. I was always told to memorize 50 vocabulary words and be able to write them word for word on a test. Instead of learning what the actual word meant to possibly use it in my day to day vocabulary, I just memorized it exactly how I needed to know it for the test. I felt like I never really learned much throughout my years, other than how to memorize something to pass a test. 

            I believe in all classrooms, despite the age group, we need to make collaboration and creativity key roles in classrooms. Personally, I believe I learned best when I was able to use those things in the classroom. I found that I actually remember the information today doing those things rather than be lectured. Even projects when students would speak in front of the class about particular things I have remembered and had fun doing. I want to implement these in my future classroom in order to make my students understand learning and have fun doing it rather than thinking they are just on a "conveyer belt." I do not want to be the only teacher doing this, I think overall the role and the goal of being an educator needs to be reassessed and changed immediately. We should be taught certain things like this in college to make our classrooms a fun and safe place instead of a burden. 

            I think, like Zachary, that I was surprised when Will brought up common sense. I never thought about it when talking about learning in the classroom but it definitely plays a significant role. I think common sense is lacking more and more year by year with students. They can have a A in a class but can not tell left from right (or another silly example)? I believe many individuals are just so focused on passing "school" with straight A's that they do not care about general, common knowledge. 

            If I could ask Will anything, I would probably ask him what tactics did he use in the classroom, why did he use them, and where were they most effective? Will truly is enthusiastic in this podcast and I can somewhat trust his ideology. Saying this, it would be interesting to know what tactics he did in his class so I can be inspired by him and perhaps use them in my future classroom one day. 

            • Nicole Hyman

              By Nicole Hyman

              1. What did you think about Will's conception of schools and learning?

              I can daily agree with a lot of Will’s conceptions of schools and learning. The only thing that holds me back about fully agree with him is that although I did not use subjects such as history for life outside of school, I do think school inspires STEM students to pursue a career within the field that can change the world. I do think learning languages can help a lot if students are passionate about. But then again, it is hard to get all students engaged and as he said, motivating students with the grades is not a good idea. We do need more communication classes and how to learn about careers and how to be familiar with working for opportunities in the workforce that does not label students with grades.

              2. What, if anything, really got your attention? Why?

              His belief system of how classrooms should be structured got my attention because as good of an idea it is, it is difficult to change the way school is structured.

              3. What surprised you?

              Something that surprised me is how within the first five minutes he laid out all of the things that many people including myself have been thinking about when it comes to the education system. It is difficult to speak about these things sometimes as future educators because we will be in this system again as the role of teaching kids to succeed in school rather than learn.

              4. If you had a chance to ask Will questions, what would they be?

              If I had a chance to ask Will questions, I would ask if he misses teaching English?

              • Gabriella Dippolito

                By Gabriella Dippolito

                This podcast by Will Richardson was extremely interesting and detailed. He talks about a point that I discussed in the last education class that I took. Children are learning to get good grades, not actually to retain the information they learned. I can tell you from personal experience that this is true. I struggled in math the most, I would memorize the formulas for the tests, take the test and then completely forget the formula the second I walked out of the classroom. For me, it was math but I am sure for other people, it’s a lot of other subjects. This brings up the point of are students actually learning or just memorizing? It brings up another good question of is memorization even a good thing?

                Something that really got my attention was the discussion of common sense. I always say that the smartest people I know have no common sense! Common sense is not something that we as educators can teach. I think common sense is something that is acquired over time. My favorite quote is “Common sense is not a gift, it’s a punishment. Because you have to deal with everyone that doesn’t have it.” I think that quote is great.

                Something that surprised me was how much of an emphasis was put on collaboration and creativity. I feel that the older students get, the less we see that in the classroom. Once you get out of third grade I would say, it is a lot less coloring and more actual work. I think that collaboration and creativity is something that we should always include in our classrooms and I want to teach middle school, so I hope to be able to include that in my future studies.


                If I could ask Will anything, it would be for some advice. I want to know how he kept students engaged and actually learning information, not just memorizing!

                • Justin Herrera

                  By Justin Herrera

                  1. I think will did a fantastic job talking about this topic, he asks questions such as "what is an education today" or "why are we grouping kids". It questions like these that as future teachers we should always think about.  He talks about many things such as student grouping, involvment in the classroom, things that teachers teach. Most podcasts I have listened to were really boring in my opinion but this one was super interesting and as future teachers i feel that we should all listen to this.

                  2. What really got my attention was when he said "kids are learning to do school rater than learn" i feel that statement is unique because students are just learning at what is required of them and some students may not have an interest in what they are learning thus causing them to have a dislike of school. 

                  3. What surprised me was how he truly felt about the education system and he is asking questions that most people within the education system either regard or disregard, and as a future educator questions like these will stay in my mind.

                  4. I would ask will for any advice for me as a future educator

                  • Holly Parisi

                    By Holly Parisi

                    I think Will brought up a number of points talking about learning in schools. His first point was students are learning how to do school rather than actually learning. This is something I strongly believe in, I feel as though today students just memorize a subject to take the test and then completely forget about it. This brings up when Will questioned why we even have grades in the first place. This caught my attention and I thought, how else would teachers see if students understand the material? But the further I thought, there are different ways to measure if a student is understanding the material.

                    Will also brought up that schools should have cohesive beliefs throughout every classroom. Whatever the belief is, in each classroom it should be the same, this allows students to be in an environment that isn't constantly changing from classroom to classroom. I never really thought about this idea, but it makes a lot of sense. Having teachers who value different things more than others can be confusing to students and adds unnecessary stress. 

                    The thing that surprised me most in the podcast was the way Will talked about grouping, especially questioning grouping by age. It's a concept I've never heard, so I find that intriguing. With that, if I had the chance to ask Will a question, I would ask him to elaborate on his ideas about grouping by age.


                    • Caroline Migliaro

                      By Caroline Migliaro

                      1. I really enjoyed this podcast a lot and thought the information was delivered very well. I definitely agree with wills concept of schools and learning. I found he went into very necessary depth and gave great details. I think he was definitely knowledgeable and really knew exactly what he was talking about.


                      2. Something that really grabbed my attention was when will was discussing how students are learning how to get by in school rather than actually learning and mastering the material being taught. I think this is honestly very sadly accurate. The amount of times I hear people say they don't care about certain classes and only memorize the material is unreal. People have definitely lost the point of what school is really about. In some cases, I think that peopling memorizing things and wind up the information is very common.


                      3. Just like Gabby, I was surprised when will went on to speak about how much of an emphasis used to be put on collaboration and creativity and that the older students get, the less we see that in the classroom. I think this definitely depends on the teacher and the subject but in many cases, this can be very true. Whether its part of growing up or if it's just that the material kids are learning becomes more rigorous, a little creativity never hurt anyone. I think teachers of students of all ages should find ways to incorporate creativity within the classroom.


                      4. I think if I had the opportunity to meet will and ask questions I would ask him is the number one piece of advice for being the best teacher you can possibly be.


                      • Nicolette Kara Camacho

                        By Nicolette Kara Camacho

                        It’s hard to change something that has been a certain way for a long time. But it is not impossible. In my past teach courses we have had many articles and conversations about how school is structured like a factory. We group students by age and just have them go from grade to grade without knowing if they fully understand the content they learned. In the beginning of the podcast he talks about how students learn how to do good in school and not learn how to learn. I remember in high school I was never good in my English classes. I hated to read. But I figured out a way to always do good in my classes by just doing the same thing over and over again.

                            When I was in middle school we raised money so that our math classes had iPads. It was a cool idea but the problem was at that time there wasn’t a lot of use for it besides using it as a whiteboard. Then my whole middle school had iPads. We all had our own and used it to do our responses and stuff but it wasn’t interactive enough in my opinion. I wanted to be able to have live discussions just like how we strive for on this website. As technology advances I feel like we are creating more educational spaces for students. I feel like we should have more courses on technology and engineering to prepare students and maybe help them create technology to create ways to learn for others. 

                            In high school the student really wants to try and succeed in these courses or they already have given up on the education system. My question is how can we motivate students and save them from being hopeless just because of the education system that was put into place.


                      TCH 215 Spring 2019

                      TCH 215 Spring 2019

                      This is the online home for TCH 215 for Spring 2019.