Are you a Teacher, Principal, IT Director, Superintendent? Do you have a BIG BUT when it comes to technology, flipped classroom and other innovative advances in education?
Make a New Year's resolution to shed those unsightly BUTs!
Thom Markham addresses this issue better than I can in his article, Inquiry Learning Vs. Standardized Content: Can They Coexist?
If you’re a teacher in tune with the needs of your students, you sense the disconnect between the curriculum and reality. You’d like the freedom to respond more directly to student needs, but standardized information and testing remains a barrier to innovative teaching.
Education’s core task is to prepare young people to generate new ideas, filter them through a net of critical analysis and reflection, and move the ideas through a design process to create a quality product, either as an idea or a material object. Students need information, facts, and specific knowledge for a successful outcome.
- Check laptops out overnight. Students can access free wifi from McDonald's, Starbucks, etc.
- Expand the hours at your school library so students can work on projects before and after school. Provide busing (similar to busing for athletics) so students can take advantage of extended hours.
- Work with your local YMCA and/or Boys and Girls Clubs to provide access to computers/Internet.
- Encourage students to use their public library.
"I don't want to incorporate new technologies into my classroom until I am an expert at using them or I will look dumb in front of my students, colleagues, administrators."
BUT my administrators/parents don't understand.
Yup. I hear you. But I'd rather be misunderstood than hurt the children in my classroom.
When I was a kid in school, math was pure torture for me. I had the teacher who would walk through how to do a new math concept on the chalkboard and then have us open our books to an intimidating page of problems for us to work out on our own in complete silence while she sat at her desk. I made the mistake once of asking the teacher for help because I didn't understand how to complete the work. After she yelled and berated me in front of the whole class for not listening while she had explained it on the chalkboard I sat down, felt stupid, and NEVER asked a question again. To this day I am terrified when I enter a math classroom or have to do anything remotely math related.
When I became a teacher I vowed never to make any of my students feel like I felt. I actually taught math when I was a 6th grade teacher but I taught it the way I wish I had been taught. Lots of hands on learning, engaging activities, laughter and trust. Use of the textbook was a strict no no. My kids scores each year were off the charts yet I received the worst evaluation of my 22 year career from my principal who actually said, "A math class should have students in their seats with there books open and you at the board". Guess what? I didn't change the way I was teaching even with that bad evaluation. Why? Because I'm not going to hurt children in my classroom the way I was hurt. 'Nuf said.
I get it. Change isn't easy and educators are some of the most resistant to change. Here are some examples of how education has been very resistant to change: (Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology by Collins and Halverson (pg. 30))
- Technology is here to stay. We must embrace it, not fight it. It is a useful tool that can help reach our students in a way that is meaningful to them (which is all that matters). There are a variety of different tech tools and software that actually makes teaching and learning more engaging.
- Learning is collaborative now. Students can work together productively and still learn skills without just cheating.
- Being a teacher no longer means standing in a room in front of rows of students lecturing for a 40 minutes
- Homework every night doesn’t always promote learning; it should be purposeful and that purpose transparent.
- Worksheets and textbooks aren’t the only activities and sources for your class content and work time
- Social media is not your enemy – it is here. We have an obligation to teach our students to use these networking mediums appropriately
- Learning doesn’t necessarily have to happen in the classroom – Blended classrooms offer students opportunities to learn on their own at their own pace online.
- Teachers serve as facilitators now – we are still authorities in our subject matter, but we must also be technology specialists and communication connoisseurs – modelers of skills, practitioners, content and research curators
- A quiet classroom is not necessarily a productive one – noisy can be productive too
- Testing isn’t the only way to gather data and all tests are not the same or appropriate
- Project based learning offers students the opportunity to practice skills and synthesize data
- Choice is an essential and necessary part of learning
- Teachers don’t know everything and they should be allowed to admit it, model it and then get answers by asking or searching on their phones and/or laptops.
- Sometimes students can teach us – especially when it comes to technology
- Flipping a classroom offers a teacher opportunity to work with students on specific needs
- Differentiation and scaffolding is a necessary part of learning in a least restrictive environment
- Traditional number or letter grades shouldn’t be a means of classroom management and don’t tell us anything about what a student know. Standards based feedback that is specific and immediate will provide opportunity for real growth.
- Teacher education and evaluation must be improved to support teachers become excellent educational facilitators – Admin must work with teachers to support these changes. We all need more training, constantly