- How will I be able to teach Biology, in the age of Race to the Top, with students who are being ignored?
- How will I be able to engage them-truly engage them in high school biology on the molecular level, when they are at fourth and fifth grade math and language arts levels?
- How will students be able to take advantage of our “text heavy” digital world for their learning?
- How will I be able to work with and against the system that misunderstands them and teachers?
- How will I be able to have a classroom learning community that is compassionate and passionate?
- How will I be able to convince others my summer program is amazing so I can get it funded?
I do not have answers yet, but I do have hope. I instinctively feel that some of my explorations are on the right path. Here are three of my areas of exploration.
Irst Exploration: On Tuesday I plan to meet with the director of a recreation center near the school where I am volunteering. I plan to see if she would like an after school STEM program once a week. If that works out, I will offer an elective to the high school students in engineering design and leadership. We will do exciting, grade-appropriate engineering design projects together, based on student interests and once a week, go the rec. center to teach the younger children. If the rec. center has a Keyspot computer center, I will work on how to incorporate a digital literacy aspect into some of the projects with input from the high school students. I am excited about this initiative because it accomplishes the following 3 things:
1. It gives the students hands-on experiences that they direct
2. It puts the students into a leadership role to teach what they know and can do as experts.
3. It takes the student out of the classroom and into the community to make a difference.
Second Exploration: The other area I am excited about is the thought of how I will teach Biology. The school where I want to teach is like a dream come true for me because it is in a professed state of experimentation. The teachers and administration collaborate in action research to discover how best to implement a student directed, competency based education. Through trial and error, and creative ideas, the education is self-correcting and does what is right for the students from a decentralized position. The challenge is how to interact and work with the district authorities from above. But somehow I feel that the solutions that result, won’t be demoralizing and demeaning for the students and teachers and that gives me such hope.
Third Exploration: The whole idea of connected learning is changing the playing field all around me. The sands are shifting for everyone on a global scale in a vast experiment. It’s not about me and my use of technology, or the student’s and their use, as much as it is about how the digital world is changing every institution in our lives and we are living in the middle of the conflicts of these changes. To give an example: Now, no one needs to memorize and learn massive amounts of information because it is available easily to us, however the authorities have deemed it necessary to evaluate our students and the teachers based on tests of whether students can memorize lots of information. This system is obsolete, demoralizing and demeaning to our students. What is important is the ability to read and write and have the social literacy to be able to interact in a digital world. What is important is to be able to think scientifically and critically and be able to make decisions and articulate reasons for decisions based on information.
In light of these kinds of conflicts that put teachers in the middle, we need to be able to find the best solutions for our students and speak out for our students because we know what is best for them. We need to join forces with other teachers, parents and the students themselves to look for answers collaboratively. Through trial and error, reflection and communication, the digital media enables us to collectively have super powers. This is how teachers can work toward equity.
My connected learning plan is to keep thinking about my practice, and to keep sharing with others and interacting in order to find the best solutions-and find super powers in the shifting sands.
I was inspired for to write this blog based on the the following sources:
This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class & Education by Jose Luis Vilson, 2014.
At Last: Practitioner Inquiry and the Practice of Teaching: Some Thoughts on Better by Susan L Lytle, 2008.
From Professional Development to Professional Practice curated by Stephanie West-Puckett of the Tar River Writing Project.