I’m reading Teacher as Architect, by Shawn Smith, Ann Chavez and Garrett Seaman. I haven’t gotten very far into the book yet, but a truth has become clear to me: how I build the learning structure in my classroom determines the strength of the learning experience for my students. I now wonder, are the materials I’m building with, suitable for the structure I’m trying to build? Is the “steel” I’m working with, strong enough for the load it must carry?
I met Garrett Seaman at ISTE2014. His passion for the art and science of education and wanting to help teachers step boldly into 21st century learning is impressive. We talked about the issues out there, the obstacles, the vision of the company he and his co authors started, Modern Teacher, and how change in practice comes from within. For me, practice includes a recognition of the fundamental shift in how children learn, what they need to learn, how they choose to learn it and what teachers need to BECOME in order to facilitate that process. All teachers need to be cognizant of this. A mindshift creates a new way of thinking, doesn’t it? I”m feeling this book and what it can do to focus me as I move to a different level in my practice.
This new mindshift is scaring me a bit, though. Not that I don’t realize that the field of education is changing, but that my role as teacher is changing in a way that I really didn’t expect. Yes, I know not every teacher will have that “aha” moment at the same time. I also know not every parent will understand immediately that the classroom they learned in is now dead and gone and expecting 20th century style setups for the teaching of their children isn’t going to happen. It shouldn’t happen. The question for me now, however, is… how do I help both teachers and parents “feel” the shift?
I’ve mentioned before I felt my first mindshift the school year I had to deliver lessons online for a student who under medical care who was in and out of school almost half the year. At the end of the school year, when he not only kept up with the rest of his class but surpassed every single student who sat in my classroom every day, I knew something was up. I’ve spent the last 8 years of my career exploring how what I did for him that year could change learning for students. I embraced educational technology as both a tool and foundation for teaching and learning.
As I read Teacher as Architect, I now recognize that I’ve passed the basic test regarding edtech. I know what it is. I know how it works. I can apply it. Now, to the next level. Like adding titanium to iron to create a stronger, more durable steel product, I now must incorporate my knowledge and understanding of the dynamics and realities of what our students NEED to KNOW in order to be successful into HOW, WHAT, WHERE and WHEN I teach. Yes, I teach science. I also teach life skills and help lay the foundation for dream attainment. A little titanium would be a perfect additive to the product I’m creating, no?
I’ll finish reading the book and get back to you on my thoughts on how I’ll use its lessons in my classroom this fall. In the meantime, consider this, school starts in a few weeks. (yes, everyone, vacation is almost over) What is your plan for your classroom? Will it be the “same ole, same ole” or will you be adding something new. What weak link in your chain will you reinforce this year? How do you plan on doing it?
There were a whole lot of folk at the ISTE2014 conference this year. Will we feel the quake from the collective mindshift? Will our stakeholders? I do believe I feel a little rumble under my feet…