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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Promoting Better Teaching and Learning in the School Year Ahead

New learning always creates disruption. While new learning carries with it promise for better learning and teaching, new learning also challenges us to make change.

I've been doing a lot of advocacy with regard to optimal tech use in my school setting. Some of that advocacy has been profitable and other advocacy has been troubling. I want to think about this as I face challenge and promote new ideas.

For example, earlier in the school year, students were on YouTube without permission. In our school system there is a rule that students cannot access YouTube without explicit approval. Students were reminded of the rule. Right after that, a NASA engineer came to speak to my class and one of his first comments was words akin to You've got to check this out on YouTube--it's amazing. We know students use YouTube regularly at home, and I believe we should allow its use and teach how to use it well rather than limit or prohibit YouTube use in schools. Also, as evidenced in the NASA engineer's talk, YouTube offers tremendous learning opportunity. Time and again we hear wonderful stories of how students find voice, learn, create, and connect via YouTube connections. Yes, at times, there are less than positive events in this regard, but there are also many positive, even life changing, connections too. As a presenter emphasized at yesterday's conference, we have to teach students how to have an optimal digital presence rather than to focus solely on what not to do.

As teaching/learning communities we have to think deeply about tech integration and work together to employ technology in rich, evolving ways--ways that help students to live, work, and be happy in their world today and the world of the future. This requires that educators have time to think together about this, interact with the technology themselves, and then promote the best possible digital literacy education and integration.

I will continue to think about and promote quality tech use and integration in the school setting in the following ways:
  • I'll speak up for more teacher/student friendly curation and integration policies and processes.
  • I'll advocate for new structures in school that promote greater, more valuable tech integration.
  • I'll advocate for a mixed platform of one-to-one at the elementary school that includes BYOD and volunteer to pilot that an initial related effort in the year ahead.
  • I'll look for ways to more fluidly integrate tech tools, processes, and use throughout the learning day. 
  • I'll continue to learn about how we can maximize tech use to support student learning in all areas via my PLN online and in real time.
At this turn in the road, educational systems have to re-look at how they use time, structure, and roles to teach well. In many cases, we can transform time, structure, and roles to promote better teaching and learning for all students.