What would happen if we teachers did not have a captive audience? As adults, we are free to come and go as we choose depending upon our desires and expectations. What if we granted that same freedom (at some level) to our students? Would you be engaging and relevant enough to fill the seats in your room? How many students would stay to solve, create, build, converse, and engage with you and your content?
Learning is changing. Students are learning in different ways. It is no longer acceptable to expect students to sit in their chairs and listen to us spill out information for 50 minutes or more. Students need to be given the opportunity to learn content that is relevant to their futures, engaging enough to demand attendance, and challenging enough to attract participation.
Teaching needs to change. Teaching needs to keep pace with how students learn. Teaching needs to keep in touch with the information and tools needed to keep pace in the workforce. If the teaching profession is going to begin to change the public perceptions of the occupation, teachers and individuals will have to do more than what their contract states. They will have to participate in activities that give them more tools, more information, and more skills to be effective teaching the new age of learners. This intriguing video really brings these concepts to the forefront. I had to watch it twice, I was terribly distracted by the great artwork…
I am constantly trying to build my learning network and my learning resources. I use tools such as Google Buzz and Twitter to gather and share knowledge from people from around the world. I also use Diigo, a social bookmarking tool to gather and share web resources. I think that all teachers should begin developing their external PLN (Professional Learning Network). Teachers are no longer expected to have all the answers. A broad network of professionals who share ideas and resources will supplement local knowledge and experiences. Having a network of peers to share ideas and engage in discussions is also a great way develop and model the 21st century skills we are trying to provide to our students. I am also going to attempt to model technology integration into all my professional development workshops. I want to demonstrate to teachers how technology can be integrated effectively and purposefully into all subjects.
Let’s face it. Every teacher has the same goal: to engage students and ultimately provide an experience that broadens our students’ knowledge. Next time you write a lesson plan, or present in front of a group, whether it is adults or students, I challenge you to ask yourself this. How many of your audience would get up and leave? How many of your audience would stay?