If all goes as planned my district will give me an amazing opportunity. I will have the opportunity to put theory to use in a full-time manner within a 1-1 environment. My work in the classroom to incorporate 21st Century Skills, my collaboration with Garth over the last 5 years and this website are all long-term projects that are starting to change education. The world is starting to take note of Garth’s and my dedication to creating positive changes in teaching. There are a lot of things to consider with this jump in technology: curriculum, work/homework, projects, parents, school board, the public and at the center the students. I have no doubts that education does not work, or rather it works for a minority of people and the rest of us just learn how to exist within it just to get out of it. The simple fact that we say you are entering the “real-world” when you leave school creates the dichotomy of life and school. So where is my rambling leading me? I want to speak a little about how I plan on starting next year for students, parents, school board and John Q. Public.
Garth and I have written often about the problem of changing students’ motivations and understanding of what it means to “go to school”. While I often pontificate to students the importance of the experience of school and getting out of it what you put in; in the background the majority of students are still only really concerned with how to get an “A”. The system has created students that do not care about how their middle school education can be used to understand the world, but rather how their middle school education is preparation for high school (where learning is important…for the sake of college). So the biggest battle I am planning to fight is changing student motivation. I want creative, independent thinkers. Now I know most, if not all teachers would say the exact same thing, but most teachers think that you can achieve this by having quiet students whom listen to lecture, complete all of their assignments on time and do well on a test. I think students need to design their own assignments, stay focused and interested and infuse subjects/disciplines that help them be inspired and creative. The hard part is convincing students of this new way of learning while knowing when they leave my classroom they return to the “real-world” of education in every other subject area. My goal this year is to allow at least half of my students the autonomy in my class to become intrinsic learners AND to be inspired enough to question why they cannot have such opportunities in all their classes.
I am a teacher and I exist in a political realm. School boards, the public and administration all have agendas and goals. Most remain fixed on students, but unfortunately, through no fault of their own, policies often need to consider factors other than the students. Funding, government standards, teachers unions, etc all influence what is happening in our schools. They open some doors and close many others. My goal, and the goal of my principal and superintendent is to bring as much attention to the opportunities we are giving students in my classroom. I know going into next year that I will be under the lense of several groups. I want my students’ work to be the catalyst for more change. I want my school board and parents to demand laptops for their students. I plan to attend and present at several board meetings throughout the year to keep parents and the school board current with educational philosophies and the progress of my students. I know that the atmosphere will be charged, especially with a levy on the ballot in November. Money is tight, but that is true everywhere. I do not think that I will have to produce justification for the large investment in technology that the district made; rather I hope that my role will be show to that technology real does inspire intrinsic learning, drive students to mastery and help students leave a positive digital legacy.
…If you teach in a 1-1 environment or have ever piloted a technology initiative in your district; please leave a comment and share your story. Success, failure, no noticeable difference, all stories are helpful and have meaning.