(Image retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/jean_pierre_gallot_69009/8456188296)
I remember my first year teaching. I entered my new classroom two weeks before Labour Day to begin planning my curriculum for the year. Although I found some teacher guide books for the Math textbook and a few other things, I felt totally unprepared. I felt like I was creating all my curriculum overviews, unit plans and lesson plans from scratch. I kept wondering, “what did the teacher before me teach?” “Where were her unit plans?” “Was this top-secret information that I didn’t have access to?”
Because I am a firm believer in sharing and collaborating, I am so delighted with the shift in education away from “hoarding” and towards “collaborating”. The advent of technology has certainly helped to speed up that shift. How exciting to share lesson plans and ideas with teachers around the globe! My vision project really encompasses two of my passions. The first is the notion of collaborating to share learning, expertise and experiences. Excellent teachers are passionate about what they teach and how they teach. Furthermore, “within the culture of educators, teachers are lifelong learners” (DeWith, 2015, p. 2). However, “this stance acknowledges that a teacher is not and cannot be an expert in every area” (p. 2). Knowing that I don’t have to be an expert in every area sure takes the pressure off!
My second passion in teaching is the increased use of technology for educational purposes. Technology can be an effective tool to motivate students and to increase their potential learning. Unfortunately, several issues arise when policy makers, such as administrators or the Ministry of Education, mandate the integration of technology in schools. These issues include: a lack of training for educators, a lack of suitable curriculum resources, limited availability of technological resources and inadequate infrastructure (ie. Internet service).
In this TEDx video, Eddie Obeng talks about how the world has changed as a result of technology. I love the following quote from his talk:
“Technology accelerates things exponentially…You know, for those of you who have as an office a little desk underneath the stairs, and you say, well this is my little desk under the stairs, no! You are sitting at the headquarters of a global corporation if you’re connected to the Internet. What’s happened is, we’ve changed the scale. Size and scale are no longer the same. And then add to that, every time you tweet, over a third of your followers follow from a country which is not your own” (Obeng, E., 2012).
Because change is happening so fast, it is impossible to be an expert at everything. But, through the internet and social media, we can collaborate and learn from each other.
In this video, the pace of change in education is discussed and teachers around the globe are encouraged to take part in the conversation about what 21st Century Education can look like.
As stated in my thesis, (DeWith, 2015) I appreciate how Hicks “asserts that the very nature of a teacher’s job description has changed and now includes a new job requirement-one must be tech savvy” (Hicks, 2011, p. 188). But, teachers cannot simply learn the digital skills and call it a day. It is imperative for them to “learn the skills needed to use technology as an integral and effective part of their instruction” (Guerrero, 2005, p. 258). Furthermore, “if the goal is for teachers to use the learning environment in non-traditional ways, to join new technology with new pedagogy or to develop collaborative knowledge building, reaching the goal requires twenty-first-century competence to be developed in the teacher” (Sipila, 2013, p. 14). Thus, new approaches to teacher training must be provided. But how?
Despite the very tight budgets that schools, boards and districts operate on, I do believe it is possible to develop 21st century competence in our educators. Teachers are busy and budgets are tight. But we can learn together through sharing of ideas and skills on a website such as mine. I propose to help my staff (and in time, educators everywhere) become familiar with various digital skills and then to transfer these skills into the learning environment. My initial audience will be my current staff which consists of about twenty teachers and ten Educational Assistants in our Kindergarten to grade seven independent school. I hope that my Vision Project will provide a platform for teachers to access information about digital tools for the classroom, while providing a forum to share ideas. In addition, my website will begin to address the need for staff training by offering tutorials on educational digital tools. I am excited to begin the conversation!
AITSL. (May 7, 2012). 21st Century Education. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/nA1Aqp0sPQo
DeWith, Y. (2015). Development of Teacher Expertise with Interactive Whiteboards: A Collaborative Inquiry using Grounded Theory. SFU Summit.
Hicks, S. D. (2011). Technology in Today’s Classroom: Are You a Tech-Savvy Teacher? Clearing House, 84(5), 188–191. doi:10.1080/00098655.2011.557406
Guerrero, S. M. (2005). Teacher Knowledge and a New Domain of Expertise: Pedagogical Technology Knowledge. Journal Of Educational Computing Research, 33(3), 249-267. doi:10.2190/BLQ7-AT6T-2X81-D3J9
Obeng, E. (Oct. 15, 2012). Smart Failure for a Fast-Changing World. TEDGlobal Live 2012. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/eddie_obeng_smart_failure_for_a_fast_changing_world/transcript?language=en#t-405988
Sipilä, K. (2014). Educational use of information and communications technology: teachers’ perspective. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 23(2), 225–241. doi:10.1080/1475939X.2013.813407