08 November 2010

Top 5 ways for me to be different

An excerpt from my journal. I'm trying to process and change the way I do things, this is for me:

In my opinion, a major part of this process is to give students ownership of their education. Students need choices in education, but first they need to be taught to make responsible decisions. When I first started teaching, I would get frustrated if students didn’t “get it” the first time around. When I am explicitly telling them information and they don’t “get it”, how can I expect them to pick up on the implicit lessons I’m trying to teach (like social democracy and decision making)? I’ve learned that students need to be taught numerous times, especially when we are learning life skills. I mean who cares if they don’t understand why the Earth has seasons (fall, spring, winter, summer)? Who cares if they don’t understand why when they flip a switch the light comes on? Okay, I care. But really, who cares? Will they not be successful in life without the knowledge they should get in my class? No. But if they don’t pick up on the life skills I’m trying to pass on to them, then we really have a problem! It no longer is an individual student problem; it becomes a systemic problem because education begins to fail society.

This is (in my opinion) the problem with our world. We have a generation of former students who see education as irrelevant to their everyday lives. All of the testing in the world won’t fix this problem. As I discuss these issues with other educators, I always end with a final question to them: Are we just going to sit around and complain about it? Or are we going to do something about it?

Our school has done challenge day the last few years and they have a saying: “Be the Change”. It comes from a quote by Mahatma Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” So, is the education system broke? Yes. Are students apathetic about learning? Yes. But what are we going to do about it? I’ll tell you what I’m going to do about it (because I can only control my actions, not anyone else’s):
1.    I am going to be the best teacher I can be. If this means I need to learn something new, I will; professional development is not just a requirement, it is a duty!
2.    I am going to build relationships with my students that instill trust and give them the opportunity to take risks in our learning environment. If this means I need to open myself up to students to show that I deal with issues in my life (get out of my comfort zone), okay! Show me the way out of my box!
3.    I am going to reflect on my practice and always work at being better. If this means I have to take time from my leisure activities to make my practice better, then let it be so!
4.    I am going to constantly look for new ways to make my curriculum relevant to student’s lives. If this means I have to learn new technology, I will! Students use tech outside the classroom to communicate, why should they be required to “disconnect” when they come into class?
5.    I am going to focus on speaking positively of my students. This means even though I get frustrated with the current state of my building, I will maintain a positive attitude so that I don’t bring others down. I will find anonymous outlets for my frustration (think an anonymous blog here).

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