Much of what I have learned about teaching has been a result of hearing, listening to and observing family members, educators, coaches, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, administrators, politicians, business leaders and leaders of various religious denominations. Dr. Katie Martin, in a recent TEDx talk, said “teachers create what they experience“. In addition, she talked about questions, which always makes me think about the Socratic Method and inquiry based learning (Martin, 2016). All of the aforementioned sources provided me with great examples of how to seize on teaching moments. They did not, however, all translate into me being able to connect with all of my students in a way that would help them experience “significant learning”. Furthermore, my students and I were not “failing forward”, but simply fulfilling goals and standards that I created for them based on my experiences and expectations from administrators, the CAS, WestEd, EES and toxic testing.
Within the September 17th live #IMMOOC, George Couros and Dr. Katie Martin used the PTI (Pardon The interruption) format, to discuss several topics. Not only did the method resonate with me, but the content as well; as a direct result of something that is relevant to so many! Their thoughts and feelings about innovation resonated with me because I too, have often associated innovation and innovators with amazing new technology, systems, designs and ideas created by brilliant minds. In reality, as was pointed out by George Couros, “all teachers are innovators, but need to figure out how to best serve the needs of their students”. Learning also needs to continue with and for our administrators, superintendents, and boards. In his book, The Innovator’s Mindset Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity, George Couros says, “if education’s leaders refuse to evaluate and stay in touch with students’ needs, our institutions will fail, just like businesses that don’t keep up with changing customers’ needs”. In addition, he reminds us that it is our responsibility to “spark curiosity that empowers students to learn on their own. To wonder. To explore. To become leaders” (Couros, 2015).
We all need to remember
Learning has already been accelerated by technology in some places, which is important for us to recognize. I love the snowball analogy! Having lived in Montana until I was eight, I can relate to the concept of packing people who share the same vision together. You can then work on building something special, that will begin to roll and eventually inspire others to become a part of the “snowballs” journey. Many schools, are GAFE schools in the process of trying to blend what they currently have with that which students can accomplish outside of the traditional classroom/class day. Some of the challenges that we face are physical and budget constraints. We need to look at infrastructures, bandwidth retrofitting and other creative alternatives to building new schools.
There are many, who are willing to try creative ways to marry that which we currently have, with that which our digital native students and society require to be adequately prepared for both college and career. They are, however, sceptical about trying to cover the curriculum in their pacing guides and prepare students for EOC (end of course exams), while trying to use project and inquiry based learning. I agree with the assertion that Tom VanderArk and Carri Schneider made in their paper, “How Digital Learning Contributes to Deeper Learning“, that most US students will soon learn in blended, student centered environments that will increasingly be competency based, (used synonymously with performance based), and students will show what they know and demonstrate mastery to move to the next level” (VanderArk & Schneider, 2012). For many of us, it means “sailing into uncharted waters with no guarantee of success” and being passionate and courageous enough to take a risk on something innovative, so that we can be true “agents of change”! Dave Burgess also said, “if you are good at something that can help other people, that you have a moral imperative to become good at sharing what you know and can do” (Burgess, 2016)!
We have been presented with a wealth of information and resources that are designed to help us improve our craft. I wonder though, if teachers are going to be adequately prepared to welcome paradigm shifts and “reject the status quo. We need everyone in the educational system to support teachers, who have a desire to use technology to help students to analyze, synthesize, think critically, create and produce ethically, and collaborate to show what hey learned, how they did it and why it is significant. For me, the challenge is to continue to learn and be accepting of what my students can teach me and contribute to the process of “raising human potential”(Burgess, 2016)! Lastly, this means that I must make a concerted effort to help my students to enjoy coming to school, especially when we consider the facts that were presented by Dr. Katie Martin, who said, “many students don’t get to do anything that they enjoy or are good at during school and that their love of learning plummets during the middle and high school years” (Martin & Gallop, 2016).