Change is hard. Time is limited, but I truly believe we are on a good trajectory toward real change in our school. I have been telling the students in my demos that all this new tech is like the Cheesecake Factory Menu...Its massive and awesome with a few undesirables on the menu pending one's tastes. And just how one might want to order 5 different things the reality is your wallet and your stomach couldn't handle it all! Same with teachers and all this new technology, we need time and return visits to be able to try all that they have to offer. Or maybe we need to just team up with colleagues and share meals at first!
We public school teachers have a fine line to walk between compliance/standardization and true progressive education through Project Based and Inquiry Based Learning. It will take time, but one thing we can all do is continue to make small adjustments in how we interact with out students. We must realize that they have spent their entire careers K-8 using a lot of technology and not seated quietly in rows for extended periods of time. This is something I had not even considered until recently when I attended an elementary back to school night presentation. So just like the students need to be patient with us and our comfort level or lack of in regards to technology, we also need to be patient as we teach them "how to learn" which may be even more important than the actual content we teach.
If you fear that students aren't paying attention and are using their Chromebooks to tune you out, then instead of looking for the Fort Knox software that condemns their Chromebooks to being paperweights...maybe we should look at modifying and redefining lessons! Now this doesn't mean we have to up heave all that you do and that your career has been a fraud, it just means that times change and the students' attention may not be about how they need to learn to just pay attention, maybe its an indication that we need to pay attention to what they are telling us through their actions.
I am currently reading a new book called Timeless Learning written by 3 Public School teachers (Ira Socol, Pam Moran, Chad Ratliff) and this quote really struck a chord with me.
"The 21st century world rapidly changes around our schools and swirls around our children...sustaining schooling as it has existed will not prepare children for the world they will enter as adults. We educators all must focus on helping children become creative and empathetic problem-solvers. We must help them be ready for a world none of us can define, but we all know will look nothing like the recent past" (Socol 54-55)
Ira Socol later goes on to say that when he observes other teachers in their classrooms he never watches the teacher. He watches the students (even their feet if seated) to see if they are engaged.
"So much talent exists in children that doesn't get seen or heard because the potential of young people often gets lost in our traditions of worksheets, repetitive motion tasks, and teachers standing at the dominant teaching wall. When kids tune out, passively or agressively, because work has no context, little meaning, and makes no sense, we never see the strengths and assets of full range of the learners who are in our schools." (Socol 51)
Change is hard, but it starts with simple choices in even our language. So think about a lesson you have coming up in November. Let's see if we can't change it up a little and see how we can still preserve your style, but see if we can't engage your students in a new way that reignites some of the disengaged and maybe even reigniting you along the way! Let's do something great! Let's have fun! Let's change the world one day at a time.
Don't forget you are human, you are not perfect!
(But as a teacher you're pretty darn close!)
Socol, Ira, et al. Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools. Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Brand, 2018.