Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thoughts for the last days of school

Wesley Fryer is a well respected advocate of technology usage in education, which I believe is a key component of being a 21st century teacher. If you do not subscribe to his blog, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, I highly recommend adding this to your "must-read" blog list.

Wesley's blog post last night truly hit the nail on the head when it comes to teachers attitude of the last few days of school and, if I'm being honest, I was one of those. I, just like the kids, was always ready to be done with the year and would do my best to keep the kids occupied while I finished getting my room ready to close up for the summer. It's not a pretty picture, but it's the truth.

I hope, as I have grown as a person and an educator, that, if I choose to get back into the classroom, I will not be that teacher anymore. In many other ways I was a 21st century teacher, but the last week of school - not so much.

Wesley was quick to point out what his ideas are NOT advocating (no rules, etc.), but made excellent points about how schools can foster a student-center environment. One of his examples is the way that Accelerated Reader is intended to be used and the way some schools actually use it - even to the point of punishment. The schools, of course, do not view it as punishment, but, as I think we can all agree, because the students aren't allowed to go to recess, the students view it as punishment. They are not allowed to do something they enjoy. Rather they are forced to do something they may not be good at - in the eyes of students...punishment. How many times do we force education down the throats of students instead of truly teaching them to love learning. Definitely one of the major roles of a 21st century teacher is instilling a love of learning. Often times this may mean finding the one thing the student enjoys and teaching them how to teach themselves using that one thing.

He also wrote to something I discussed in a previous blog about 21st century teaching is often a fundamental change in schools and the way people think.

"As I continue my work as a 21st century educator, I grow increasingly convinced that the fundamentally coercive nature of our public education system in the United States must change in basic ways. We, as a society, have grown accustomed to an educational system which is compulsory and therefore fundamentally coercive in its nature. This coercive side of education becomes most clearly unmasked in May, as we draw closer to the end of school. Students sitting in class a week from the end of school may understandably ask, “Why are we here?”"
Do you want to coerce learning or be a facilitator of learning? Personally, I choose facilitator.

By the way - I have recently joined Twitter. I'm JennAFuzz and Wesley Fryer is wfryer.

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