I just returned from ISTE 2011 (International Society of Technology in Learning) in Philadelphia. It is probably the biggest educational technology conference in the world. I believe there were over 18,000 people. There were teachers, professors, administrators and students there from countries around the world. I wish there were more students.
I built my career around coaching and working with teachers. I enjoy being with teachers. They are the make-up of my PLN (Personal Learning Network). The problem I am finding is that this economy, the attitude toward teachers, and how schools are even perceived is impacting everything that is happening in schools and to kids. Some of my good friends are being laid off, others are being relocated, and others are asked to retire early. So I see the negativity toward and from teachers. Right now we’re in a transition and teachers are caught in the middle. Unfortunately some of this negativity is impacting our teaching and the learning environment.
So I suggest we learn to let go and let learning happen. This is our students’ lives — their time. They are getting caught up in the middle of funding issues, the poor economy, and we are messing up their lives. Schools aren’t as effective as they used to be because we are testing them on facts they don’t need anymore. The tests — the assessment — the data — everything is impacting their lives. The test results impact the school and very rarely affect how one student learns or doesn’t learn. I know we need data but we forgot what teaching is all about. Everything should be about our kids — the learners. They are smarter than the tests show. How does closing a school really help our children? I’m going to address this as one post.
As media, I took a lot of notes, talked to a lot of people and companies, and decided that my message is about the learner. I’m going to use that angle for the next few posts to share what I found out. It’s not about 21st Century Skills. It’s not about the technology. It’s about preparing kids for their time — their “Present” and their “Future” not what we think school should be about. It’s about building a community of learners who have access to the resources they need so they learn what they need so they reach their fullest potential. Kids are remarkable if we let go — if we give them the opportunities they need to grow.
Everywhere I went at ISTE, it was about tools and Apps. The one thing about the tools that got me excited was BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Why not? I’m a geek. I love the new Apps for the iPad. I love the tools that encourage creativity, but that’s not the only reason why I go to ISTE. I want to know what students are doing with the tools – how the school and the teachers in the schools are making a difference. Maybe with BYOD all of us who have control will let go.
I want to write about how students are learning, how school are transforming their learning environments, and how teachers are letting go. Are you with me? Comment below or send me ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At least since Homo habilis, it’s the tools and what they can to do improve our lives. As a public schoolteacher for the past 35+ years, I don’t worry too much about the future. Each generation rises to its challenges while the older generation frets about what the new is missing. I tend to believe that if the situation doesn’t kill you, it will probably make you stronger. Barbara, keep up the great work!
It’s worth looking at Finland’s Educational system:
View this trailer for a movie about Finland’s educational system:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcC2l8zioIw&feature=player_embedded. Then view this news report about the Finish educational system: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICZyrNLOZ3U&NR=1&feature=fvwp Also read “The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World’s Most Surprising School System”: http://blogs.forbes.com/erikkain/2011/05/02/the-finland-phenomenon-inside-the-worlds-most-surprising-school-system/