Updated: Dec 9, 2018
As I look around my campus this year, I see the addition of a great deal of new technology. SmartBoards are gone, new 75" SmartTv's are in place along with AppleTv and new iPads for each teacher. gone are the bulky desktops, new laptops in each classroom for students use. As the first semester is about to end, I reflected on howt this new innovative technology has changed the classroom. I realized, that there was very litle different. Oh, teachers are now using the iPad to present a PowerPoint, show a YouTube video, and in my case, work a math problem as I walk around ensuring they are taking notes. Then I realized that it was the only thing different. We are still using the same old curriculum, teaching it the same old way but trying to make it look like we have progressed to a new innovative way of teaching. Sadly I realized, nothings really changed.
So I asked myself, why has nothing changed? We have new technology so there should be change but reflecting on my own teaching, I'm as guilty as anyone else of making no real progress. So last week, I took a risk, knowing I was going to be observed and tried something new. I did not copy note worksheets for my Algebra 1 class. Instead, I used an app to show on the TV a few examples of how to work solving a system of equations by elimination. This is one of the more difficult topics to teach to freshman. In day 1s, I only worked 5 examples. On day 2, I worked 2 more examples and gave them 8 problems to solve and walked back to my back desk. they looked at me and asked if I would help. I said, "no, you have each other, you have notes". I saw fear in some, anger in others but a couple of students took the challenge. They got into a big circle with their desks, designated a leader to lead working out each problem and went at it. I moved to my teaching desk and watched. They started conversing and finally their leader spoke up and got them focused. I knew some would sit back and copy but I heard one student say, "hey, if you're just going to copy, you're not doing to pass the test". Slowly over the next 35 minutes, they all began inputting ideas and answers, correcting each other without any negative comments to each other. By the end of the period 35 minutes later, They all walked over to my back desk and deposited their completed assignment with an air of success that was new. The lowest grade was an 88 because of minor errors. It was truly amazing.
The reference blog, people like this stuff...like this stuff by Seth Godin, really categorizes the different types of educators quite well. Some don't see the need to change, some do but they don't want to risk being involved, so just walk away from education completely because it will not change and then there are those who risk change, but very slowly so as to not rock the boat. The bureaucracy that is our school system is the single most roadblock in change. Educators have seen too many failed attempts to implement new ways of teaching having spent thousands of dollars to bring in companies to teach us these new ideas but sadly, there is no follow though and it slowly fades away in a year or two. We need to break this cycle by presenting this new way of innovating thinking within our system ourselves and not allow it to fall through the cracks but to become the risk takers we need to be.
Godin, Seth. 2014. People who like this stuff...like this stuff. Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=5198.