Friday, July 3, 2015

Are You A Hero?

While researching and planning for a curriculum unit about social justice, I came across 
The Six Attributes of Courage and it occurred to me that during this time of great change in education, these are the attributes that teachers need to have. These are my reflections on my experience with these attributes of courage this year on my quest to become a "techie":

  1. Feeling fear yet choosing to act: Technology isn't going away, and as an older teacher with very little technological skills I had to make a choice: Act or become obsolete myself. I have always had a profound love for learning, as I think most teachers do, but for some reason, technology is very scary. I have decided to view technology as a learning opportunity, rather than the mysterious thing hiding in the shadows of the closet. In a single school year I am blogging, my class is blogging, we are making cool videos and infographics, and so much more. I've experienced more professional development through the PLN that I have found on Twitter in a single school year than I probably have had in my entire 16 years of teaching. I am also more connected with parents and students. Today a student explained to me on my class Instagram page how to contact Siri, and my coworkers think I'm some kind of a tech guru-boy have I fooled them.
  2. Following your heart: Creating a learning environment where students are valued and want to come to school is very important to me. I have no interest in trying to cram my ideas down someone's throat for them to regurgitate. The best ideas that we come up with are just that, WE come up with them. I enjoy going to school because of the learning. I learn from and with my students every day; we are a team.
  3. Persevering in the face of adversity: Six desktop computers that run off of two brains, and a very strict no cell phone policy is a challenge. I polled my class once and only half have cell phones, even less have a computer with internet access at home. I am not going to let a lack of technology, out-dated technology, or my own lack of knowledge get in the way of progress. We are innovators and we find ways to integrate what we have in such meaningful ways that it doesn't matter that I don't have the coolest technology. I use what I can and the pedagogy is on point.
  4. Standing up for what is right: The digital divide is my current cause. Becoming a connected educator has had many benefits, but has been equally revealing of the disparities that continue to persist in our education system. In a previous post on this topic I explained that when I bought myself an iPad, I thought that meant I had a 1:1 classroom (1 iPad for 1 class). I went to a training and chose a session on 1:1 classrooms and quickly realized my error and how much of an advantage students at other schools had over my students. Another disadvantage I noticed was how much on-going training teachers in other schools were getting. So, I continue to look for ways to get funding for tech and pursue every opportunity for free professional development that I can find and then share with others.
  5. Expanding your horizons and letting go of the familiar: As a teacher, there is nothing that makes me happier than connecting with students and developing a positive relationships with them. Technology has allowed me to connect with them and continue the learning beyond the classroom through our blogs and Instagram posts. Today's students are digital natives and I worry that when teachers embrace the podium over the student voice and choice that utilizing technology can allow, students will view schools as archaic institutions of apathy. I also ditched the textbook, years ago, so glad that's becoming thing.
  6. Facing suffering with dignity or faith: I haven't had to suffer this year thankfully. What had been prophesied to be THE worst year of my teaching career, you know, the class that all the teachers talk about year after year that's finally coming your way, well it ended up being THE best year I have ever had. I felt more connected with students and parents and other educators. I had fun because I listened to the students and let them guide the way. I definitely didn't "cover" everything that I had hoped to, but I feel like what we did together was memorable.

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