Monday, August 23, 2010

Taking Risks

In my first post of the year, I talked about newness. In a comment to that post, Chantal said, “Technology is a handy tool, but the effectiveness of the teacher instruction continues to be paramount to successful education.” For those that do read my blog regularly, I hope you have seen that theme amidst the gadgets and glitz. Effective instruction rests with the teacher.

In reflecting on Chantal’s comment further, I believe the 21st century presents a valuable opportunity for us to model learning. In an age of information overload, we spend a lot of our time teaching students how to learn...and we should. We are teaching students how to fish rather than just giving them a fish.

Some people are more willing to take risks than others...

Title: Shark Surfer

Source: Youtube via notorious415

I have observed and heard many stories regarding the difference between the younger and older generation. Young kids can program a VCR or make the computer do amazing things because they are willing to try stuff. They don’t worry about it breaking. How many adults say they didn’t want to try something on the computer because they didn’t want to mess it up. Kids are much more willing to take risks.

As we integrate technology into the classroom, we take risks. We risk our position as an expert. We risk control. We empower students without knowing how they are going to handle it. With the risk, we have a great opportunity. We can become a student and learn from the students that we teach. It may seem like a no-brainer, but the paradigm shift is difficult. It can make the technological shortcomings of the teacher apparent. At the same time, it brings the strengths of some students forward and engages them in amazing ways. Teachers that model “not knowing” and learning a new skill, allowing the students to teach them and their peers can create a phenomenal learning community in the classroom. It requires some humility. It requires a willingness to say “I don’t know...” That’s not an easy phrase for many teachers.

I can think of fewer ways to transform your classroom than truly modeling learning and creating a learning community that grows everyone--teacher included.

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