Facilitator vs Instructor

For many teachers, stepping into the role of a facilitator rather than lecturer is a great struggle.  It is difficult to relinquish that control and give students some freedom to ask questions, attempt to solve problems, fail, and take some liberties in the direction of their learning.  I feel that I have always found a good balance between the two in my personal teaching.  As an elementary teacher, I still find traditional teaching necessary, but in short bursts with authentic practice and application.

As an effective educator in the 21st century I believe our role must change.  Education is no longer about finding the right answers.  Technology does that for us.  We must move into the role of teaching students to ask the right questions, how to research, how to discern the validity of sources.

Effective teachers of the 21st century are patient.  They are eager to see students succeed with as little intervention as necessary.  They allow time for students to explore, discover, and fail.  Yes, fail.  Failure is ok and students must understand that.  A facilitator is able to take a step back when they see a student may fail, but they are there to guide the student through that failure and ask the questions to guide them through a new approach.

One of my largest struggles with facilitating a PBL unit, is pushing through the failures of my own design.  PBL is not easy.  There are always kinks and snags, some of which turn into holes and tares.  Part of this I think is due in part to the freedom I give students.  As mentioned in this video, students get frustrated and shut down when they get behind.  I need to do a better job of helping each student or group manage their tasks, as well as checking in to make sure groups are on task and on schedule.

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