Thanks to Jonathan So for nominating me to think about this topic of 5 Things that we need to stop pretending in Education. Please give Jonathan’s post a read as well.
I did lots of pondering for this post, and I know people may not agree with some of my ideas and that’s ok. Our ideas of how our teaching and classrooms should look/feel is always changing, so please let me know what you think.
1. That one size fits all PD works
We need to be differentiating our learning as professionals just like we do for our students. Each teacher is at a different point in their learning journey’s and comfort levels on those topics and we need to honour that. All staff listening to the same discussion about tech for example is not the best use of time. We need to give teachers the ability to guide their own learning to allow them to grow! Following other teachers on twitter, reading their blogs and having meaningful discussions with them has allowed me to grow as an educator way more than a standard PD session.
Now with that being said I am starting to see a shift this way in education with EdCamps and special release days to focus our learning which are amazing learning opportunities. However it is still very small and not available/common for all teachers.
2. That simply giving people tech, will change the classroom
Technology is simply a tool (like a pencil) that we use to help students learn and grow. Handing a teacher an iPad, a Document camera or any piece of technology is problematic for a couple reasons. One, the device should not drive instruction. We should be picking the device that best fits with the task we are getting our students to complete. Sometimes the low tech option might be the best, every task is different. This discussion needs to happen before the tech is purchased, to make best use of our money. Second, teachers need meaningful PD and time to explore and learn the device. They don’t need to be experts, but they need to have a basic understanding of the device and how it can be used.
Don’t get me wrong I love using iPads in my grade 4 class, but we need to get away from simply buying iPads because they are ‘iPads’.
3. That numbers/grades are the best indication of a students understanding
This is one point that has been one of my biggest shifts. I have been focusing a lot of my efforts this year on Math and Inquiry. Through this work I have moved away from the traditional paper and pencil test, to more open ended tasks that allow the students freedom to learn at their pace and about a topic that interests them within the confines of the curriculum. The discussions the students have with each other, and myself have been very valuable to learning about them as learners and where they are in their learning journey. Allowing them to work on an open task will produce some amazing and different results from the students that you never would have anticipated. Give the students the freedom to amaze you and they will! Learning needs to be more than how many questions I got right on a quiz or test.
4. That students need to sit at desks
In the summer I went to creative zone and reserved 4 rectangular tables and 1 circular table to be delivered to my room. This started my classroom transformation. My room now has the 5 larger tables, 4 desks, and a carpet as the main areas for students to complete their work during the school day. The students have no assigned seats, and are free to move from table to table or carpet throughout the day based on where they are going to learn best. I have some students that spend all day in the same seat, and some that move from the table to the carpet, and to the higher table with the stools, etc.. throughout the day. This free flow of seating has allowed the students to take ownership of their learning. If their friend is talking to them, they have the ability to move so they can focus. This took some time in September for the students to get use to, but is now amazing to watch. I still have 4 desks that are available for those students who need a quieter individual space to work at. I am constantly on the lookout for more alternative seating/workstations to expand this new learning space.
5. That students need the 20th century structure of school to learn
This was one point that I debated changing numerous times (part of why it took so long to post). This is a discussion I have with many teachers and parents. Some form of this quote always comes up in conversation; “We learned ‘this’ way when we were kids and we turned out just fine, so why change what worked.” The format of school needs to evolve as the world changes. When I went to school “Google” was not an option, BYOD meant something completely different, and when you were doing research you lived in the library. Now students have a wealth of information at their finger tips. It is our jobs as educators to give them the tools to find, think critically and be able to use this information in a meaningful way. Students need to be more than consumers of this information. We have lots of amazing work going on around Coding, Maker Space, Inquiry, Problem Solving, Minecraft etc.. (I know I’m missing a ton) which is allowing students to apply their knowledge of this information in some amazing ways that the textbook never could.
Thank you for reading my thoughts on this topic, and please let me know what you think.
I now call on;
I know some of you aren’t blogging yet, so I thought I’d give you a little nudge. A number of #peel21st teachers gave me the nudge and I thank them for that.