Image courtesy of cybertoad
Last night I had the pleasure of being part of the Ontario Educator Meetup facilitated by Rob De Lorenzo. The meetup featured Dr. Alec Couros from the University of Regina discussing PLNs. I found this discussion to be really helpful because the people attending the session were from all over Ontario as well as from various parts of the world.
The common theme that seemed to run through the discussion was that many of us Twitters (or twits as my Mom calls us) are passionate about good teaching and we use technology to facilitate critical thinking skills. All of us want to make our students think and to engage them in ways that they find interesting.
The discussion then took a more reflective turn. We started to think about why many teachers are hesitant to use technology in our classrooms and some of us speculated that many teachers who are unfamiliar with technology are afraid to use it in their classrooms because they worry about what happens if things go wrong (ie inappropriate content.) Another reason is that teachers are afraid of taking risks in front of their students and possibly failing. This speculation is a little disappointing for me. I guess I’m the kind of person who believes that we learn from our mistakes and that teachers aren’t perfect so if I make a mistake in front of students, then it shows them I’m human. I also think that my mistakes provide great teaching moments in the classroom and allow for thoughtful discussion afterwards.
It was also interesting to hear the discussion surrounding new/new-ish teachers. I’m currently in my fifth year of teaching and so I fell into the “teaching for under five years” category being discussed. Some participants speculated that newer teachers have more of an understanding of technology and are willing to use it but don’t get the opportunity, some speculated that new teachers are using the same teaching methods they were taught with and some speculated that many of us younger teachers are getting disenchanted and are getting frustrated with teaching at a really young age. The interesting aspect of those ideas is that I can agree and disagree with all of them. My staff has quite a number of newer teachers and there are some who fall into the category of being very technologically fluent and some that only use the computer for email. There are some who are using differentiated instruction strategies and some that are using the overhead to copy notes and answer content/recall questions. Finally, there are some who love teaching and some who are very frustrated. In my opinion, I think it depends on who you are as a person and as a teacher as to who you are in the classroom.
As for where I fall on the newer teacher spectrum, I love technology and good teaching strategies that engage students in critical thinking, but there are times when I am very frustrated with the policies and concepts surrounding teaching. On a positive note, what has really been beneficial to me this year is my PLN. I think it’s absolutely amazing that we have the means available to us to engage in these kinds of important discussions with other passionate educators in our own province and all over the world. It has been really great to be so supported and motivated by all the positive movement towards change from these wonderful educators! So thank you for reducing my frustration and providing me with constant support so that I don’t become a “disenchanted” teacher!