Monday, April 4, 2016

When an Edutechie's mind won't shut down...

Can being a connected educator be a bad thing? Hear me out. Every year at this time of year I find myself in an edufunk. What's an edufunk? It's that moment when you realize that some of the goals you had for the school year are not going to come to fruition. It's when you feel like you have been swimming upstream and you are just weary. It happened last March for me and now again this year. So I find myself reflecting.

I consider myself a hard core connected educator- like if I did tattoos, it might claim that on my forearm. Just kidding, but you get my love for connection. Being a connected educator helps me grow professionally, vet ideas for the future, reflect and evolve to better myself. Just like with all information on the internet, the amount of good stuff I see happening in schools or new ideas I see is overwhelming at times. The upside for me is that I can share the things I learn about with MANY different teachers. I'm not trying new things on the same students over and over.

I believe there is value in the tried and true. Many of our students need consistency in learning because constant change throws them into a state of disruption. Some kids just don't like change. I have a daughter like that. I am someone that loves surprises and I thrive on change and the unexpected, she melts down. For a while (much longer than I would like to admit) I saw this as a limitation for her and tried to change her. I now realize it takes all types to make the world go round. I push for new/different opportunities and she thrives in sameness.

I think it is good for her to be pushed out of her comfort zone some, but it is also good for me to find the balance in routine. This is where I think some teachers are pushing the innovation envelope too far. We, as educators, should always be trying new things to better meet the needs of our students but we also need consistency to know what works and what doesn't.

There is such a great wealth of teaching ideas and strategies out there for us on social media but we have a responsibility to curate that information. Some educators "ooo" and "ahh" over every new idea they see. I think owning a few new concepts and ideas yearly is a better direction for innovation. What are your goals?

  • Do you want your students to be more connected to the outside world? Perhaps blogging, mystery Skype, or contacting an author/skilled subject matter expert while teaching the skill of business letters and email etiquette would be a good thing to take on.
  • Do you want your students to create ways to share their learning other than a test? Perhaps give your students opportunities to do a slide share, podcast, or video and grade them based on a rubric. 
  • Do you want your students to learn how to do research on a subject matter and curate information? Try these search education plans or teach them how to use Show them databases that your school has access to that will help them find quality information.
  • Do you want more opportunities to consume reading and videos for learning? Try accessing OER options like, khan academy, youtube, and SAS Curriculum Pathways. 

Technology definitely can add some depth to your lessons but there is a need to be intentional in it's use. Pedagogy before technology best meets needs.