I haven’t decided what I think about the privacy issues, etc. involved in the videos Doug Johnson links to in today’s post 21st Century Upton Sinclairs.
I do know that I feel sorry for both the teachers AND the students in the videos. I also wonder about the context of the videos. What IS actually going on? I feel particularly sad about the 2nd video. Is that teacher still working full time? She appears to be well past retirement age. Is she working because she can’t afford not to? Perhaps there is no health insurance for retirees in her district. Or is she a substitute who must work to supplement her social security, pay for medical bills etc.? I am always shocked when I hear our kids talking and realize that many of them regard old people as objects of derision. When did that happen? Don’t they have grandparents that they love?
Teachers need help and support. There needs to be a culture of respect built in the school, and that respect must go both ways – student to teacher AND teacher to student. Something is wrong in these schools. I know administrators are not 100% to blame. The whole school community (parents, students, teachers and administrators) needs to come together to make schools comfortable and safe places for students to learn and teachers to teach.
I did read one of the comments in Leader Talk which said “I think probably all of these classes would be just ecstatic about project based anything”. Our school has always been involved to a point in project based learning – but the projects don’t always have strong real-world relevance. It is that relevance, plus the elements of competition and collaboration, and the infusion of the digital tools kids love, that resonate and spur kids on to think creatively and really learn.
Our kids are good kids. Our teachers are good teachers. Our kids and teachers like and respect each other. But we need more relevant projects to get students to step out of their comfort zone and really THINK. That is why our 21st Century Learning committee is planning another REAL WORLD PROJECT. The challenge will be for students to design the way they want to learn. We are hoping to get 48 kids more engaged than ever. Those 48 kids will be a mix of abilities and grade levels. Teachers will act as coaches. I will be a neutral facilitator, there to act as a resource for all 4 teams of students. We hope that it will be as exciting as last year’s project. More so – since it is a subject near and dear to their hearts, AND they will have the opportunity to present their ideas to the Board of Education with hope of implementation of at least some of their ideas.
Most of all, I hope that we can eventually move this type of thinking beyond a once-a-year project, and infuse it throughout the school. The 1-teacher, 1-class, door-shut model should come to an end. It is not how people learn best – and it is certainly not how most people work in the real world.
And dare I say it? If some of those teachers had stepped away from their classrooms and collaborated with their librarian on a project – perhaps the kids would not act like prisoners? Teachers don’t have to do it alone. There is not just safety in numbers – there are exciting learning activities that can happen by collaborating with your librarian and your other colleagues.
Don’t shut the door. Let the world in.