Every summer I require teachers to read one education book, often selected from the ASCD website. I always provide choice, such as reading “Readicide” or “Where Great Teaching Begins.” This year, however, as we continue our journey as a 21st century school, we are providing a different approach to professional development. Before we send our teachers off for the summer, we are spending the day learning Twitter and setting up for a summer-long learning experience. The goal: follow teachers and experts in your field/content area to learn from and collaborate with throughout the summer. Teachers are also required to reflect as they learn this summer on the school blog-sharing tweets, experts, advice. Stay tuned for our Twitter Summer!
In an article posted by the New York TImes, author Thomas Friedman writes “Institutions of higher learning must move, as the historian Walter Russell Mead puts it, from a model of “time served” to a model of “stuff learned.” Because increasingly the world does not care what you know. Everything is on Google. The world only cares, and will only pay for, what you can do with what you know.”
I so agree. As my lower and middle school undergoes a re-vamping of the scope and sequence in each content area, I question why we are going through this process. Are we doing this wrong? Shouldn’t we be creating standards for applying knowledge and standards for best instructional approaches? Does it really matter if Johnny knows about genetics in 7th grade? Or should we talking about Johnny learning this factual information on his own and applying what he learns to a new problem? And shouldn’t we be assessing teachers more on HOW they teach and less on WHAT they teach?
We need to wake up in education…we are no longer the only voice of knowledge. We need to do it differently, we need to think differently, and we need the courage to accomplish both.
So what does this have to do with technology? I think children having the knowledge in their hands (laptops, iPads, phones, etc) all day, every day, means we no longer have a choice as educators. We need to think about how to move our children from memorizing information (no longer needed) to using it in a context. We, as teachers, need to encourage collaboration as much as possible, and we need to provide opportunities for EVERY child to communicate his/her thinking along the way. Teachers need to provide the opportunities and environments to allow children to show what they can do with what they know.
Teachers and administrators have so many opportunities to learn new technologies for the classroom. There are websites, blogs, magazines, research, books….the list goes on. I still believe the best way for teachers to learn is by learning from colleagues already implementing the technologies.
Three years ago my school adopted an iPad one-to-one environment for grades 6-8. We felt very much on our own. We had to search out the help, and find the right articles, blogs, and websites. It was an exhausting process and, yet, we still were missing the critical professional opportunity that truly can TRANSFORM practice- learning from colleagues already in the trenches with such environments. Three years out we found our way. We learned, just as much from mistakes as from success stories. I do not want the same to happen to another school.
This summer my school (http://www.stedmondsacademy.org) is hoping to offer an iPad professional development opportunity for any teacher implementing iPads. The entire experience will be teachers helping teachers…we will not have all the answers or all the solutions. But we can share our story to guide educators on this journey. We believe, since the onset of this implementation of technology, the teaching is better and the learning is better. Even though we have three years in, we need to challenge our practices and hear other ideas. We need to share what we do that works well and what did not work well. We need to ask the why and how questions for both scenarios to continually grow as educators. And, we need to support our colleagues along the way.
I am hoping teachers come this summer to share, talk, learn, and reflect.
Today is a new day. For years, I have tried to launch this blog, and then life just became too busy. However, after the implementation of my school’s one-to-one iPad initiative for grades 6-8, I knew as an administrator I had to put my preaching into practice. I had to start modeling exactly what I want my teachers to do- to model with technology, to learn with technology, to communicate with technology, and to think with technology. So, here I go. This blog will be about modeling, learning, communicating and thinking about technology in the classroom and in the office. I welcome your thoughts and inputs along the way.