Saturday, 4 July 2015

Shifts in Teaching and Learning

I could write a book about how and why the role of the teacher and learner is changing in the 21st Century.

I began teaching in 2005, I've only been an educator in the 21st century. The fact that we are 15 years into the 21st century means that "21st century teaching and learning" should just be teaching and learning. New research and science is continuously coming about the capabilities of the human brain and sometimes the education system follows through, for example small class sizes in primary and the use of guided reading. Even the ideas about the new Math, real world problem solving, and how homework should be purposeful review and not drill and kill have been readily accepted by some but questioned by others. Teachers are bravely jumping in with both feet, doing what is best for their students the day after they heard about the idea at a conference or on twitter. But just because teachers aren't using those strategies yet, it doesn't mean that they are not continuously using their best professional judgement to educate the group of students sitting in front of them at that time.

When I started using technology in the classroom, it was because I found it easy and it helped my practice. I would forget/misplace papers/day plans/USBs so the cloud/google drive became my solution. My handwriting was messy, so I would give feedback online through the dropbox. I didn't like wasting the overhead film, so the projector seemed a natural tool. I didn't have enough laptops to use for research, so I let my students bring their own devices. I didn't like the youtube videos about the environment, so we made our own. I personalized my practice and in turn, I ended up giving students more choice. In pursuing my own inquiries, I became a believer of the power of student lead inquiry based learning.

With technology, I've stopped feeling so lonely at my school. I would hear those messages at conferences and on twitter, and knew I was in good company when I used "new" strategies with my students. I began collaborating with people outside the four walls at my school because one year a grade partner told me, "you don't have to worry about what I'm doing in my classroom." Yes students questioned why I didn't give them a test at the end of the unit, but it only helped me grow as a educator to show them, the other ways that they've demonstrated their learning in my class.

So where am I  in the process of an educator teaching in the 21st century? Following my path as best as I can.

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