I recently saw an inspirational quote at my gym that read "To be different, you have to think differently". That rung true for me on many levels. And it is especially true when I think about how I run my classroom. Over the past 14 years I have made vast changes to both my classroom space and management style. But those changes were not the result of a NYE resolution. The changes that I made and maintained started with my own thinking. If I changed rules in my class, but didn't change my thinking about how the new strategies worked and how I would maintain them, ultimately they would be doomed to repeat. I had to change my thought process first or I would inevitably end up on the same road as before.
As technology continues flooding into our classrooms I wonder how it will maintain in the future. If teachers do not change their thinking about technology and its role in the classroom then will it really last? I think we all know the answer to that. It is for this very reason that the role of a Tech Integration Coach could not be more important. Real change takes time. If we do not give the teachers support on how to best use all this technology as well as what is useful vs. useless. Otherwise most classrooms will look like time has stood still over the past 100 years and any 1:1 initiatives will leave a lot of schools with very expensive paper weights. And that will not make us "Future Ready".
My hope is that school boards and administrators across the country start to realize that you cannot squeeze any more time into a day. That is set and non-negotiable, but what we can do is help our staff and students to be more efficient with our time. Teachers can leverage technology to help free up time spent at the copier, time spent grading smaller assessments and give students faster and more effective feedback. We can utilize LMS and even digital snow days to help learning continue even outside of the school building and day. Then administrators no longer have to weigh student safety with how many built in snow days we have left.
However this all starts in the mind of each teacher, They need to ask themselves some serious and simple questions. What does learning look like in a classroom today? What did learning look like when they were in school? How are the needs of today's students different or perhaps the same as when they were students? The reality is that we are all products of our environment and teachers rely on their personal histories to help define success in their professional careers, but their compass may be outdated...for example what if Google Maps used maps from 1950? Yes it would get us in the general direction, but it would not take into account the shopping malls, highways and tolls that have popped up over the last 69 years. We need to adjust with the times. We can still maintain the structural integrity of our classrooms, but we need to be aware of how the student population has changed. We need to help support our teachers and invest in technology that makes sense and is user friendly. We need to invest in the future of our students and our communities! I'll leave you with a great quote from a book called "Thinking Skills for the Digital Generation". This quote sums up the healthy fear we all have, but it requires a change in thinking on our parts. Are you up for the challenge?
“We, as educators, are concerned about the way that media are shaping students’ worldview. We are also aware that technology is altering how we learn and think. But, at the same time, we are excited about the enormous potential for technology
to aid human thinking.”
Athreya, Balu H., and Chrystalla Mouza. “Thinking Skills for the Digital Generation: the Development of Thinking and Learning in the Age of Information.” Thinking Skills for the Digital Generation: the Development of Thinking and Learning in the Age of Information, Springer, 2017, pp. 16–16.