Take a look at these pictures.In the dwindling months of 2011, these pictures are nothing new – they are not shocking, surprising, or noteworthy. They are simple pictures of very young children doing very normal things – using technology in their everyday lives. We humble ourselves though, and try to define these kids. They are the “digital generation,” a “force to be reckoned with,” or my favorite “the generation that will change the world.” These tags are great, they ARE exciting. But they are also frightening. Who will teach these children? Who will provide for them the education they need, while realizing that the world we live in has ALREADY changed? Teachers are supposed to teach to the “Standards,” uphold the curriculum requirements set forth by the state, improve test scores, reach “every child,” all while implementing THE PLAN.
So,what IS this plan? Teachers are supposed to prepare this young generation for college and career. They are expected to engage students and communicate with them, THROUGH TECHNOLOGY, because “this is the world we live in.” Teachers are bombarded with words like:Implementation. For instance, “That didn’t work because the IMPLEMENTATION was wrong.”Assessment.
As in, “This software will provide accurate assessment of each child that fell behind.”Data. (This one is classic, and apparently the answer is Infinite Campus, but that is another emotional conversation. A proprietary software company is going to revolutionize Education….Really?)Devices. How about, “Hand-held devices will help teachers communicate with students.” Yes, but does this piece of technology get the achievement we want? Don’t be input driven, be output driven.
Deployment. For example, “Following the Tablet deployment, test scores didn’t change!” (How about the Instructional Practice didn’t change because there was no Technology Instruction?) It is imperative that districts not just lay technology on top of poor instruction.
Ah, yes, the best one: Readiness.
Students should be ready to tackle the world, ready to contribute to society, ready to implement change in a vast and competitive world. And who is responsible for making sure this happens? Why, YOU are. The teacher, of course.
How about Teacher Readiness? Who is going to actually help our teachers accomplish these gold standards to which we provide so much lip service? There are so many committees, and departments, and boards that demand teachers to “reach the struggling student…challenge all…improve and penetrate the classroom…work together for the unified vision…achieve and meet these new goals…rethink the structure, personalize the lesson…standards….vision…”
So for a moment, let me back off the buzzwords and THE PLAN, and share with you a quote from Peter Cochrane:
“Imagine a school with children that can read or write, but with teachers who cannot, and you have a metaphor of the Information Age in which we live.”
Its a powerful metaphor. One that makes administrators all over the country scratch their heads and wring their hands. They give presentations and send memos asking “How do we make changes? How do we improve? What’s coming? How do we prepare?” And in the very middle of this swirling vortex of the PLAN and ideas and big words is…..the Teacher.
The Teacher is in the middle. The teacher is the one greeting students at the door, monitoring tests, dealing with tardiness and hormones. The teacher, who comes to school at 630 am, stays late to grade papers and attend a very important meeting about change, and then drags home to family, children, sports, church…..LIFE.
When is this teacher supposed to learn HOW to implement the required change? When will this teacher have time to rewrite lesson plans that reflect the diverse learning format required by their district? How will this teacher suddenly become a model for hybrid learning, a leader in her district for differentiated learning?
The answer is that it will NOT happen overnight. Stressing about it and fearing it will not move any student closer to having that successful “blended learning” environment that we all demand. There are words that I like to use when I think about technology in education:
Courage. Risk. Flexibility. Innovation. Experiment. Adapt. Learn.
Let your students teach YOU how they communicate. Try to engage them on their level. ENGAGE THEM. Allow them to create, express, and collaborate. Try SOMETHING this week: Take a very small step and at the bell, pat yourself on the back for TRYING something new. Use Podcast, Wiki, Digital Storytelling. Play a game, use a WIKI, show a YouTube video. Start a classroom website. Write on your BLOG. Ask your students for advice. What makes their eyes light up? Seeing an iPad bring their lesson to life? Using an iPod to measure distance? Creating a movie about the life of Ben Franklin? Talking to students in Mexico about the migration of the Monarch Butterfly?
Login. Read. Write. Watch. Do. Edit. Visit. Listen. Question. LEARN.
That’s how my children do it, and they are only in Elementary School.
A Video to Inspire you:
A Blog to Motivate you:
An Inforgraph to
make you laugh: