Some of you might be wondering why I might be frustrated and writing a blog post about it? I know, it’s a bit of a risk, but hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. It is what it is. Take it or leave it. I am frustrated over a game, the interview game. My most basic needs are not being met and it is frustrating. I am, by calling, a teacher. Add to that the fact that I’m certified in secondary social studies and many of you right now are rolling your eyes and saying to yourself, “good luck man, you’re never going to find a place in this economy, or social studies teachers never leave, or you’re way too intimidating for my likes.” And you will stop reading now. You have no interest in me as a person, what my interests are, how I can engage kids, and that I learn and adapt. Would you ever think of treating your students that way? I am and ever will be a teacher of students. Who ever ends up hiring me is going to find me to be the kind of person that never gives up on kids. You will find out that I truly believe my role as teacher is to serve my students as a guide directing them to ask questions and to follow their passion. That the true goal in education is to help kids sustain a love of learning and to remain curious about the world around them. If we can do those two things for kids, then they will learn all kinds of content along the way, whenever they need to know something they will find out.
To be quite honest, many teachers and administrators out in the world are playing the status quo game. A game of don’t rock the boat, don’t upset the turnip cart, don’t cause waves. I used to know a teacher who would pull out his master copies of worksheets from ten years ago and on the first day of teacher in-service, before kids came to school, would have the copies run and the whole first unit or two would be ready for him and his students on the first day of school. Is this really the game that many administrators and teachers play EVERY year? Unfortunately for our kids, you know that the answer to the question is yes. And, another year rolls by. When are the majority of teachers and administrators going to finally stand up and state, “I put students first,”
with conviction and honesty?
Am I perfect? Far from it. Do I know what I’m doing? Not all of the time. Do I know how to build knowledge about topics that are interesting? Yeah, that would be true. I will let you in on a little secret, I know how to LEARN. Since January of this year, I have learned about game based learning and gamification. These are two powerful ways to engage students in any classroom and if I have questions about the research or about certain aspects of using either in my classroom, I know the experts who I can turn to for help. Some of those experts are nearby and others are on the other side of the globe, but I know who they are. I even made a proposal and presented on the topic of gamification at the Iowa 1:1 Institute and at three EdCamps.
Since January of this year I have been involved in free professional development via twitter chats. IT’S FREE professional development folks. If you’re serious about adding relationships and knowledge of educational pedagogy to your talents, then you must learn how to engage in the use of social media. I have included the articles, Twitter and Educational Chats and Twitter EDU. I have met people from all over the world via twitter chats, Google Hangouts, and other social media sites. I get my education news delivered to my Feedly reader, tumbler blog, rebel mouse blog, reddit, FlipBoard and Zite. 24/7 learning anytime anywhere is the norm now. How many of you are being left behind professionally because you fear social media? You have to build your digital footprint, check it, nurture it, and be sure that you believe in every word you put out there. Oh, and you need to be a risk taker. You need to be okay with trying and failing. If you are perfect right out of the gate, I’d like to sit down and talk with you. Send me an E-mail.
I have learned about the benefits of and co-presented about 3PBL (Project/Passion/Problem) Based Learning. Got a question? Want to know something? Want to help other people? Ask the right questions and work toward learning, helping, growing. I am also learning about electronics and the maker movement. Why? Because, I’m interested and I know that kids like to build things. I also know that this is a great time to be involved in education. We are on the cusp of greatness, testing new waters and finding out what is best for kids. Let me give you a scenario. Not too long ago, I ran across a student teacher who was running classes on her own. She was contemplating what to do with her students the next day because class time had been extended from 40 minutes to 65 minutes. The first thing out of her mouth was, “I don’t know what I should do? I can’t lecture to the kids for 65 minutes, I mean it’s bad enough when I do it for 35 minutes, but 65 minutes is crazy. Maybe I can find a good documentary for them to watch?” WOW! It’s 2014 and the student teacher and the university that she attends have not figured out that even with high school social studies students even 35 minutes of lecture is crazy? I’m a substitute teacher in a couple western Wisconsin school districts and worksheets, lecture, note taking, and power points are the best that most teachers can come up with! Unbelievable, but honest to God truth.
Administrators, you must start shaking the trees or your students will suffer and not be prepared for a future of uncertainty and change. I say this to everyone who will listen, we must quit worrying about content. We must start helping students learn how to learn and how to adapt to an ever changing world. If you truly believe that your content will be remembered ten or twenty years down the road, you are fooling yourself. The jobs that sixth graders might have twenty years down the road are going to be vastly different than those we know about today, many of them haven’t even come into being yet. But, if a kid knows how to learn and adapt, then they will be ready for life-long learning and solving the problems that the future holds.
Now this is very important everyone, do you want to continue to be part of the problem or part of the solution? There are pockets of teachers and administrators in the world who are working to change education by putting students first. I am very fortunate to be one of those teachers. I have a vision, passion, and excitement for what is possible for our kids to do. Our kids can do great things if their teachers and administrators are willing to take a risk, step back from center stage, and let the kids lead through inquiry. I know, that’s very scary to many of you, but step back and watch. Kids can do amazing things if teachers and administrators would just get out of the way and help them learn how to learn. The game of life or school doesn’t need to be boring drudgery, drill and kill, lecture and worksheet packets. Learning and life should be joy filled and exciting, like a good adventure.