As classroom instruction evolves, teachers are taking on different roles. Creating new titles like “learning engineer” can help shift that mentality and better describe a modern teacher’s role, school administrator Ben Johnson writes in Edutopia.
Johnson plans to start calling teachers by the new “learning engineer” title as a way to nudge the educators out of their current mindset. Paraprofessionals also need to be recognized as critical to classroom success by being called teaching assistants rather than teaching aides, he says.
Changing the term “lesson plans” to “learning plans” better helps to define the idea that the role of a teacher has shifted to one that inspires creativity, persistence, flexibility, curiosity and expression.
Altering educators’ titles and changing the definition of what it is that teachers do reflects how teachers now engage with students in the classroom. Rather than lecturing, many teachers — especially in personalized learning environments — are now guiding students during lessons and letting students take more control over their assignments. Everything from the style of the lesson plans to the layout of classrooms are transforming to better fit modern learning styles.
Part of this transformation is based on eliminating the idea of top-down decision making in schools. Now it is more about teacher collaboration. For example, the 34 teachers at Minnesota’s Impact Academy have the autonomy to make decisions about things like knocking down walls and allowing students to work across grade levels in “right fit” groups.
Teacher-led collaboration teams can offer a form of ground-up professional development that may help retain teachers. Many teachers leave their schools after five years and 25% leave the teaching profession completely. Allowing teachers to take on leadership roles in the schools gives veteran educators a chance to pass on their expertise and gives newer educators much needed guidance. Such models also add a layer of autonomy that may help increase job satisfaction by allowing teachers to have direct input on their school environment.
Teacher innovation can come in different forms. From focusing on empathy to learning math through group problem solving, today’s classrooms are reflecting the essence of the modern office spaces that focus on both collaboration and individual focus. Learning engineers who create innovative learning plans and apply them in flexible classroom spaces may have a lot more job satisfaction than peers who teach in a more rigid environment. Job satisfaction can lead to teacher retention and that, in turn, benefits both students and districts in the long run.