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.
What would your students say are the most important qualities of teachers?
Who is responsible to change in the education process, the teachers or the students?
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.