A reflection about being a 20th century student and becoming a 21st century educator

This week, the twitter session really got me thinking about what I remember from my learning experiences as a child, what impacted me the most, what did I “walk” away with from each teacher or class, and how those experiences, gained knowledge and understanding of others and the world around me shaped who I am as an educator today.  As I thought about this week’s essential question (How different is your current classroom from the one in which you learned when you were a student?), I found myself examining whether my professional practice was “stuck” or simply just “rooted” in the 20th century.  I think the way I learn is obviously in part because of the context and environment that I grew up in and the types of teachers and classrooms I had over the years.  When I find myself at times questioning my own assumptions about my teaching pedagogy, I notice that there are some aspects of my work that are rooted in the way that I learned as a child.  However, having been a student in the 20th century but spending my entire professional career in the 21st century, I feel that I’ve had an experience that bridges both and has allowed me to adapt and continue to build on what I’ve learned.  @iamindlgak wrote about a similar theme of balancing both centuries in his own work and I agreed with him on the importance of “find(ing) a balance so that my students will have the necessary skills to continue to be successful when leaving my class.”  

I also realized this week that somewhere along the way, I had adopted the mentality that being a classroom teacher meant that I had to focus on content and skills; since I wanted instead to focus on context and experiences, perhaps that is why I moved away from teaching in a traditional classroom environment and found more of an identity in community and youth development work.  The knowledge and understandings I had gained in studying to become a teacher definitely informed my work and now I feel that I’m a “teacher” in a non-traditional or alternative setting.  This summer I spent a lot of time thinking about the relationship between teaching and learning and how I would like to change or improve my own understanding and skills related to both.  Reading and hearing from others has significantly helped me to do that and being in the Ed Tech program, I am gaining a more profound appreciation for a peer learning community, even more than I did in all my years of working with other professionals in the youth development field.

Several ideas from my peers contributed to my thinking and understanding about our essential question.  @teacherak14 wrote about how diversity in the classroom had changed the dynamic of today’s classrooms compared to those of the past.  She also pointed out that technology such as email had significantly improved the ability for teachers to communicate with parents.  I responded that it also improved communication with students and with colleagues, particularly around resource sharing and networking.  I reflected on the ability for us to now have a virtual paper trail that documents our efforts to resolve issues or gather information – definitely a change from the experience of a 20th century teacher!  @winnsunshine had shared a similar view about using technology to enrich her teaching practice; an article she shared that dated back to 2007 really highlighted where we’ve “been” but also how much of that information is still relevant if you are just now beginning to integrate technology into your classroom.  So while technology continues to undergo rapid changes in a seemingly short amount of time, because of technology, we are able to reach back and still benefit from earlier information and methods that are still relevant today.  @teacherak14 also commented on technology impacting learning processes and I wondered whether in the future it would be necessary for people to learn to read; that life would be easier if we learned to read but that as technology adapts and improves it might replace the “basic” skills we still think need to be learned in school today… very interesting…

@samdutton2015 reflected on her journey from student, to student teacher, and to teacher and in that space of time technology was rapidly evolving but even a move to a different region or school district can impact the level of tech integration that is possible in a particular classroom.  Part of my response to her, appropriately sums up my reflection on this week:

I think an important aspect of this course is that while the physical environment and tech resources are just some of the things that continue to change, educators have a responsibility to embrace a growth mindset in their own practice and adapt to the changes around them.  This is certainly not always an easy thing when you factor in other issues that impact students, teachers, and schools today – funding, staffing, training, standards, testing, community issues, etc.  However, I’m a firm believer that teachers can innovate their teaching practice even if they don’t always have the latest and greatest cutting-edge technology or the fastest internet bandwidth; this can also be a way to model for students how “simpler” technology tools can still be powerful tools in learning and building their skills!

Any thoughts, feelings, opinions, suggestions?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s