Learners of Today

I remember sitting in the classrooms of my high school many years ago thinking to myself that some of the strategies my teachers were using were corny and gimmicky attempts to get me to learn. I also remember thinking that they were trying awfully hard to appeal to me on a personal level and connect the information with relevant examples (at least the good teachers). But I also distinctly remember having the thought that these teachers that I saw on a daily basis probably learned in a way that was very similar to the way I was currently learning. Cleanly stated, while there were pedagogical changes in the way students learned while I was in school compared to when my teachers were in school there was arguably no fundamental driver of instructional change. Technology, however has arrived, and with it an educational divide has been created between teachers and students in learning modalities.

A common feeling in education is that teachers teach the way that they learn best. Typically, teachers have been very successful at school throughout their lives and thus perpetuate the style in which they learned. Therein lies the issue that we now face with education; students now learn best in a style that did not even exist when teachers were doing the learning. I grew up with technology, but I was not born into it.  My family didn’t get our first computer until I was in middle school and it was another couple of years before we were connected online (queue the AOL modem connect). I really didn’t start using technology in my learning process for anything other than research until I reached college. Students in classrooms across the country have not only had high speed access since birth but they have been using it as long if not longer than some of their teachers. Students now engage in some form of active learning 24/7/365.

With a change in learners, must also follow a change in instructional practices. It would be naive to say that educational technology is a fad and refuse to get on board. Students know what they are looking for in a teacher and they know what teachers they will be able to learn best from. It is the teacher that is not necessarily an expert but the teacher that is willing to try to connect with them at their level that will be effective deliverers of information.

Below is a Wordle from a teacher survey of students about the most important qualities of teachers. The larger words are the most commonly used from the survey.

studentvoicewordle-mvq4hjReflection Questions:

  1. What would your students say are the most important qualities of teachers?

  2. Who is responsible to change in the education process, the teachers or the students?

  3. What one, out-the-box change, could you make in your classroom to enhance student learning and connect with them at their level?

    I will leave you with this thought. When I first got into education I was frequently asked what I liked most about teaching. My most common response was that everyday was something new and was a completely different challenge. We are now in an exciting time in education when not only is everyday something new and different for students, but also for teachers. Thanks for reading. I welcome and look forward to your comments and responses.

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2 Comments

Filed under education, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Learners of Today

  1. I really enjoyed the video. I actually talked about this idea with my 9th graders. I got some great feedback. They really enjoy coming to school, and like the ability to talk with people about their learning. Some of them said that they would be devistated to have to miss a college experience and do everything on line. One of my big video game playing students said that he really enjoys actually listening to someone teach at school, and likes the break from technology since he is on it all the time. For the most part students enjoy a blend of both worlds. I find that my students love discussion and work on edmodo, but at the same time, equally love an old fashioned lecture and discussion from time to time.

    As far as who needs to change- both of us. We need to keep improving ways and finding things that will engage students. Or, what we do will not be effective. Technology is one of them! Students have a role in this as well.

    As far as future changes for me to make, I am very interested in the flipped classroom format and have started doing a much more interactive format for my class on edmodo and plan to continue that for the fourth marking period. It is neat to put the kids in small groups on there and have post parts of their writing, questions that they have as well as answers to discussion questions. I like the chance that kids have to tell each other good things in response to what others are posting. Makes for a great classroom community. Plus, It is so cool to see that you have students logged in on their own time at home!

    • Laura, thanks for you input. You always offer very interesting food for thought. I especially liked your thought on the matter of who needs to change. I think it is important that teachers and students find a middle ground for optimal learning to occur. While most people recognize that student learning is changing there is still merit in being able to adapt to your surroundings and not having everyone cater to your specific needs all of the time.

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