Friday, February 24, 2017

Engagement in the Classroom

So I think the issue I have been thinking about lately is engagement. Getting teachers to engage in a topic and implement it and embrace it and use it in the classroom.

Over and over there is a new initiative, a new program, a new way to do something. We work hard for a year or two and then it fades away. Great ideas everything from kindness to productivity to technology integration, some small scale classroom changes to whole system changes like OBE.

Love and Logic, Character First, Great Expectations, SPI, Rachel's Challenge, Character Strong, RAKIT, Key Words, Critical Thinking, Blooms, Piaget. Some of these concepts we have embraced fully, integrated them into our methods and philosophies and practices. Others have come and gone with bits and pieces integrated but the whole discarded. The programs make us better teachers and students better human beings. But over time interest wains, something else comes along as a mandate and something has give, something has to be left behind and it is often that extra something that is not a part of the curriculum. Some teachers or administrators will have a passion for the program and it gets promoted and encouraged, practiced and integrated and positive results abound.

It is almost is if there is a stasis. This is the way it works. Introducing something into the system makes a change for bit and then soon enough back to the way it is.

So for twenty years I have been teaching technology in the middle school classroom. It is the same as it has been. Some software comes and goes. Websites with new information. Applications and software gains popularity and fades away. Remember when PowerPoint first moved from a linear to a circular model? Remember making SWF movie files? Remember AOL? A computer in every classroom but little time for students to delve into the technology. We know what we know with technology but have little incentive to do anything differently then we have always done it. The method may change but the task is the same.

There is a revolution coming. We are going to change the way we do things or not. Either way it works. Teachers are going to teach. Students are going to embrace learning or find ways to avoid it. When every student has a computer it will be a transformative experience. Something as simple as I am at the front of the room and I see the students changes to I am at the back of the room so I can see their screens. We get up, we walk around, we put into practice all the techniques that make a good teacher.

With a technological device in the hands of every student the classroom will be altered. Teachers can use that device like a textbook and teach in the method they have always taught. Teachers can harness the power of the device and change the way they teach and the classroom will be transformed. Is one way better than the other? No. Does one way ensure success, No. Will things be different? Yes. Are we going to have a whole new set of issues to deal with? Yes.