The Role of the Teacher in High-Quality PBL

April 20, 2017
Getting Smart

By Michelle Berkeley

How exactly is an effective project-based learning (PBL) teacher different from a non-PBL teacher? How is the practice and approach to teaching shifted? What does a PBL teacher need to do to support the PBL environment? And conversely, how can the PBL environment support the teacher?

When we collected input on ways PBL is implemented effectively and areas where PBL could be improved, many ed leaders honed in on the role of the teacher as a most pivotal point in the success of a PBL classroom. For PBL to be successful, there must be a shift in the definition and expectations of the teacher, and acceptance of breaking from the traditional “teacher and students” model.

What are some of the ways the PBL teacher must break from the traditional teacher role?

Teachers must:

  • Be able to provide support, empathy and inspiration
  • Facilitate thinking, growth and engagement
  • Generate classroom activities based off of understanding students
  • Feel safe to experiment and free from strict time constraints

In PBL, teachers are part of the student journey of learning on multiple levels. Teachers must find balance as they are constantly engaging with students, peer teachers and educational opportunities in the PBL process. Here are some thoughts from our surveyed EdLeaders on three key areas of investment in the development of a PBL teacher: qualities and skills, training and collaboration, and professional development. Read more…

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