To My Students,
You took on a new challenge this year, unbeknownst to you. I imagine this summer you never thought you would be starting this school year in a laptop classroom. I mean, learning with a laptop computer? Who would have ever created such a crazy notion? I myself doubted at times whether it would all come together by the beginning, and thanks to an amazing leader and friend, Mr. Fisch, you and I were presented with an amazing opportunity.
This opportunity has not been easy on some of you. I understand and hear your struggles in the blog. I am glad you are struggling with this because change is not easy. It is so easy to become complacent and feel safe in doing education the way it has always been done. But if my teachers would have been complacent when I was in high school, and their teachers would have been complacent with the way they were taught, would society ever advance?
I struggle as well, but with the implementation of quality in your learning, not merely adding quantity. Anyone can shove information down upon her students, asking for them to simply regurgitate it back in the same form that the teacher lectured. But is that building understanding? Is that creating learning? Should I be teaching the same way it has always been done? Or instead, should I be showing the passion for reading, literature, learning, and life that I feel I possess? Please understand, I am not saying that lecture and teacher directed learning does not have a place. I believe it does. Basic information and background knowledge need to be established so students can grow and learn. However, what I am trying to do instead is allow you to have a greater part in the learning process.
At the beginning of the school year, I was asked to develop my philosophy of education. Here is part of it:
• The teacher is a facilitator, coach, mediator.
• The teacher is seen as student as well as the students are seen as teachers.
• The teacher is there to build bridges between the knowledge and skills to link the students to understanding.
• " the teacher is a coach, providing scaffolding where needed, tailoring mini lectures to clear up confusion or if things are going well, simply moderate discussion and allow students to figure out things on their own."
When I read this quote and thought about what I wanted my classroom to look like, I decided I want my students to have a say in their education, to be able to challenge themselves as learners and push the boundaries of education. I want to provide that scaffolding that is necessary for you to grow and to instill in you a desire to be a life-long learner. At times, I want you to recognize that I too am a learner: creating questions, analyzing texts, wondering what I can do to prepare you to be ready for the 21st century. You have heard me say it numerous times, but I firmly believe it: THIS IS NOT EDUCATION AS USUAL. I challenge myself everyday to think critically about the work I am giving you and to see if it is meeting these standards. Reflecting back on how I have previously taught, I recognize I was largely successful; however, I know I am able to do much more for my students because the possibilities for your generation’s learning are limitless. Why simply use the standard previously set when I can raise the bar for both myself and for you?
You might think that my goal with you is to expose you to as much technology as possible. Guess what, you’re wrong. The technology is simply a tool to help you and I become a better and more efficient learner. It enables you to interact with the text and produce ideas like I have never seen before. You are creating questions and making connections that are so impressive. Do you see this in each other? Do you see how you have already grown in your learning and desire to know more? I want you to look at the world in a different way and with an informed mind that knows how to be a critical thinker. You are becoming producers of information, not consumers. You are not allowing others to produce ideas for you, but instead you are standing confidently on your own – this is my goal for you. Additionally, I want for you to see yourself as part of this community of learners who are all growing, struggling, learning, and challenging one another to be their best. Don’t become complacent with your education and let it happen to you, instead I challenge you to make your education happen. This year, you have been given an opportunity to start fresh, to use physical, mental, and technological gifts to transform our learning – show yourself, show me, show your peers, show the school, and show the community the possibilities.