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Teacher preparation, personalized learning championed at education summit

Published: Monday, July 8 2013 4:51 p.m. MDT

Schools and teachers too often focus on teaching students how to be taught, rather than teaching students how to learn, he said. Technology, November said, offers new opportunities in the classroom to encounter, create and share information and should not be seen simply as a digital replacements for old practices.

"The real revolution is not technology," he said. "It's information."

Linton said that when discussing education, the concept that comes closest to being a magic bullet for improvement is the need for effective and prepared educators. He said all the reforms and programs currently being debated around the country — such as school choice, inverted classrooms, blended learning and the new Common Core State Standards — are only as effective as the teachers charged with using them to prepare children for college and careers.

The single biggest factor in improving education, Linton said, is investing in teachers to make sure they have the 21st century skills they need to meet the individual needs of today's learners.

"They are the creators of our workforce," he said, "and if we don't invest in them and help them get up to speed, then all this other stuff doesn't happen. People keep asking questions. They keep wondering, they keep bashing education because we haven’t given teachers the skills they need to actually do what they need to do."

Another of the summit's keynote speakers, Jim Mahoney, executive director of Battelle for Kids, also talked about the need to invest in teachers and teacher preparation. He used the example of the grass being greener where it is watered to illustrate how positive input can result in positive outcomes.

"If we name, blame and shame as opposed to uncover, recover and discover, we get something different," Mahoney said.

The summit comes just weeks after a scathing report on teacher training programs in the U.S. by the National Council on Teacher Quality, which described education programs at the country's colleges and universities as an "industry of mediocrity."

Linton agreed that there is room for improvement in teacher preparation, but he also expressed an optimistic view of education in the United States. He said there is currently an atmosphere of innovation in schools that is causing progress to move forward at an incredible rate as schools and districts have become laboratories of ideas and best practices.

"This is the most exciting time in the history of education in our country," Linton said. "We see more entrepreneurial attitudes among state-level administrators, district-level administrators, principals, teachers, business leaders, and the most important thing is we need to get everybody on the same page, drinking the same Kool-Aid."

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

Twitter: bjaminwood

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