Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
Photo courtesy of

Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Becoming a Lifelong Learner in a Technologically Overwhelmed World

I love being a student. I love buying new notebooks, pens, pencils, lined paper, staples, scissors, the whole nine yards. I love learning anything new and discovering more about myself in each class. Yes, I am addicted to school, and I know I am destined to be a lifelong learner.

How do we, then, get our middle school students just as excited about acquiring new ideas and knowledge again? Far too many of my students either work just to get an A or choose not to bother to do any work at all. Rarely do I see the energy, enthusiasm, or excitement for learning for the sake of learning in them anymore. Why? What has happened? Is our next generation truly this doomed?

I would like to think not. Yes, it is true that my students are growing up in an extremely difficult, tumultuous, and technically-abundant time that all but forces them to be "plugged in" multitaskers. Going to school is really the only time where we ask them to become "unplugged" and learn the old-fashioned way -- at a desk with the teacher at the front of the room telling them what to do.

So, should education catch up with how students learn? Should we be teaching students less facts to memorize and more strategies to filter through information they are bombarded with online and in the media? What should the goal of K-12 education really be? How can be re-engage students and get them excited to be learners again?? These are difficult questions that touch the fundamental nerves of every educator today struggling with student enjoyment, interest, and engagement in the classroom.

Personally, I believe the more we make content and curriculum accessible and relatable to the students' lives, the more genuine student buy-in, respect, and interest we will have. Students need to know WHY they are learning something, and we need to be prepared to explain to them the relevance and significance behind each lesson.

The traditionalists will argue that we are not entertainers and should not have to put on a fancy song and dance routine for our students every day. I agree. However, we need to find a comfortable compromise and middle point to reach our students where they are at and where they can be most impacted -- as learners, thinkers, technological consumers, young people, and responsible citizens. This convergence is tricky but worth it in the long run.

At the same time, I also think we have a lot to learn from our students. Every year, they come to us with more and more technological savvy and knowledge that surpasses our on capacity for such information. We should allow them the opportunity to channel this knowledge and creativity into productive, imaginative projects, papers, discussions, and writing pieces that demonstrate student expression and mastery of content knowledge. We also need for students to recognize, appreciate, and utilize the interconnectedness of the seven subjects and classes they take every day. Instead of viewing English, math, social studies, science, reading, foreign language, PE, health, music, art, and theater in their own confined compartments, students should be challenged to embrace interdisciplinary study and make real connections between multiple subjects and their own lives.

It is up to us, as educators, to plant the seed for our students' lifelong hunger for learning and discovery at an early age. Every student has the inner fire to want to learn and discover throughout their lives, but this desire is often stifled and gradually forgotten about each school year. Let's showcase our own love of learning for our students by creating meaningful lessons related to their classes and lives, allowing them the opportunity to incorporate a wide range of technological expertise into their work, and encouraging them to never stop asking questions -- and to always love learning something new. Can we do it?

No comments:

Post a Comment