Instead of lugging a stack of papers from school to home and back again (we commonly call that giving our papers a ride or a field trip), I can give students feedback in real time.
Instead of writing a bunch of feedback on a paper, I can give students an almost infinite amount of support in the form of exemplars, student collaboration, online research, exemplars, exemplars, exemplars.
Instead of teaching the whole class the same thing at the same time, I can give them access to support from exemplars, student collaboration, online tutorials, and online programs that let them proceed through concepts at their own pace.
Those are a few quick examples of the exchange of the “work smarter not harder,” but the essence of this comes in the form of how these proccesses allow for students to self-evaluate constantly, for me to step back further and further from the teacher as center, and for students to own their own learning. Ironically, the most I ever read about this is for teacher reflection, like this recent Edutopia post, not student. This is a great article, but why aren’t we applying this to student learning?
I feel more empowered, in that further stepping back, to step back completely. I am truly a facillitator. The tools I’m discovering to improve that practice are frankly, within my own imagination.
I’ve always taught a workshop, student choice, student-driven classroom, but until a one-to-one device ratio, I have not felt the ability to make this possible for all learners to stretch and grow to their full desire.
I’m able to meet them where they are, and they can take themselves wherever they want to go.
This is an odd place for a caveat, close to the end of this blog entry, but here I go. I don’t know how useful this blog is for anyone. It’s philosophy verging on cliches and platitudes. But, it’s why I need to blog.
When I started this blog (the blog site, not this entry), I was almost physically shaking with my excitement for what techology was allowing me to finally be able to do. It wasn’t about “wow, how cool is this,” or “wow, this makes this easier.” I was never interested in this app or that app. I was excited about what students could do on their own. It was about the limitless possibilites for students to learn their passions, interests and fly.
Since the time I started this blogsite, I have settled into a routine of class procedures that are efficient and effective, and I’ve been happy in a relative plateau.
Now, with my new 6th graders coming in, I’m shaking again. I’m starting over with a group, and the possiblities are blowing further open, and my brain is storming with ideas. I can barely attend to a moment because I’m reaching into possibilities.
I started this blog with how I’m working not as hard. I think, if I were to sum it up without a cliche, I’d say I’m working funner.
It’s way more fun to meet students in the moment of their work, chatting in real time, on their documents or in person. It’s way more fun to pop onto their Google Doc and ask a question and have them answer it immediately.
And it’s exciting to push them every time they make a statement. And they have to answer that question, that probe, because it’s a living document, not a piece of paper with a grade stamped on it.
And it’s exhilirating when they realize that they’re discovering things about themselves and the world.
I am loving teaching now, more than ever. I engage with students more frequently and with more depth.
My husband, who teaches science, told me the other day that he has been loving teaching science so much more lately. He said, “I feel like I get to do that workshop thing with science.”
So, he thinks it’s funner too.
Goal: everyone gets that that whole “funner” thing was on purpose. I also would like to add some student exemplars to this blog. And..a side goal to my students who read this blog: I’ll try to make the next one funner.
Gratitude: I get to teach where I do, when I do, and with the people I do.