I have a philosophical beef with “Technology Class” because I feel that technology should be used appropriately in all classes rather than as a stand alone. Truth be told I would like to get rid of all “classes” and “integrate” all classes into each other not just technology.
But I defeat this philosophical problem by trying to make my class project-based integrating all other classes into mine as much as possible. Therefore students do not spend every class in front of a screen, but also build and create things. In the process they write, calculate, research, collaborate, and present. In many ways I think this approach could be a model for how to set up a whole school. Now I do not always do all of these things with every class and I do not always go as deep as I would like either. Which leads me to the title of this post …
I do not like teaching technology class because it is a nine week class at my school. At the end of every quarter we wrap it up, ship ’em out, and bring in a new group the following week. I find it difficult to teach using many tools/methods I would like. For example blogging and Google Docs. It takes a lot of time to set up the accounts and show how to use them properly. By the time students are really getting the hang of them my class is over. Also if I want to have a long-term collaboration with another school it is not enough time to really invest in the relationships.
Last year I got to teach one 8th grade section for a whole semester and it was great. Unfortunately there were a lot of scheduling issues and my class went back to quarters this year. Which leads to the other reason I do not like my nine week class. It is hard to get to know students and build relationships with them. I feel like I am just getting to know my students and they are gone. A few drop by to say “hi” from time to time, but my classroom is isolated in one corner of the building away from almost all of their other classes so I may not even see most of them in passing for weeks.
So when I read other people post about long-term projects and building relationships with their students, I get a little jealous. The best I get is to have the same student for one quarter for three years in a row. How do other teachers with constant “shift changes” build long-term relationships with students?
Well, I did not get much response from my idea of educators banding together and paying one of our own to lobby Washington D.C. for legitimate change in education. I did name a few names in my comments on the blog that sparked the original post and a couple of them responded. (Again I want to emphasize that my original question of “Why do none of the ed-tech leaders seem to have the ear of Duncan, Obama, or any of the other politicians making terrible education policy?” was not meant to be a critique of anyone but was a genuine question).
Some of the responses given were obvious and make sense: “politics, everyone is an education expert, and politician’s minds are hard to change.” But one reason was given that I disagree with: “Don’t assume that even the people in your list agree on the large or small issues regarding a deeply complex issue like education.”
Now I know that people could argue about the fine points of education forever much like churches argue about theology. We love to split into denominations: Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed, Baptist, Mennonite, Presbyterian, 5-point Calvinism, 4-point Calvinism, 2.5-point Calvinism, etc.
We have educators who believe in standard based grading, rubrics, or no grading; homework, modified homework, or no homework; IWB’s, clickers, laptops, IPads, cell-phones, 1:1, or limit technology; student-owned devices or school purchased; experimentation or research-based decisions; public schools, charters, TFA, or KIPP.
We struggle to define loaded terms and concepts such as Web 2.0, 21st Century skills, literacy, learning, purpose of schools, PLN, social learning.
But even with all of our differences I think that we could agree on some basic tenets of quality education at the Federal level and leave all of the rest to local districts to figure out in their communities. So here is my education platform:
- Get rid of standardized tests
- Get rid of NCLB and RTTT
- Constructivist, student-centered learning
- Re-write CIPA to give localities power to decide how and what to filter and to allow for the option of student-owned devices
- Support technology integration in schools
- Encouragement of cooperation and collaboration in schools
- Focus on critical thinking and problem solving
Again what these look like in each district would be different, but wouldn’t we all agree to these broad goals over NCLB and RTTT? So do you agree that we agree or am I assuming too much? Are there things you would add or subtract from this list?