Becoming a teacher was always a consideration when I was thinking about what I wanted to be when I was done high school. I liked the idea of leading a classroom full of excited children, eager to learn and listen to everything I had to say. Plus, the holidays looked pretty good. But I had bigger plans…….
So when I started University, it wasn’t in education. I was going to be a world leader in some scientific field. Upon graduation, my feelings had changed. As an undergraduate researcher, I working alone twelve hours a day in a dark, cement basement lab, surrounded by nothing but 100’s of fish tanks full of goldfish. To say boring and monotonous (injecting thousands of goldfish full of hormones to illicit a mating response is not high up in my fun category!), is an understatement.
I like people, and working with people, so I decided a future in science was not in the cards. After looking over my options, I chose an After-degree in education. So after two more years grinding through Ed. foundations and psych. courses, I was ready to become a teacher.
It was an exciting time for me, thinking about using my background in science to help kids see how much fun science really can be. My head was full of all the activities, labs and field studies we could be doing……real science!
My philosophy of the type of teacher I wanted to be at the time, was that of a facilitator of learning. Students in my class would be self learners and discoverers. I didn’t want to be one of those teacher’s that stood at the front of the classroom and lectured, as mostly bored children sat taking notes.
The old model of teaching didn’t work for me. The one where students were simply empty vessels, and all that they needed was someone to fill them up with the necessary knowledge to become good, well adjusted human beings.
Reality is not what you plan on when you start a career in education. Time and budget constraints, IPP’s, inclusion of special needs, the huge variety of learning styles, classroom discipline issues, etc, the list can go on and on. So after eighteen years of teaching, I am one of those teachers. I find myself teaching mostly through lecture, and include as much activities that time and money will allow. To be honest, it is easier for me, but probably not the best for my students. It does, however, help keep me sane!
So where am I going with all of this…….. One word: Technology.
Just in the last couple of years, we have seen the development of new technologies that have the potential to transform how we reach our students. Interactive smart boards, smart phones, I-pods, I-pads, tablets, cheap laptops, etc., are all tools that can be integrated into our teaching practice. The software and Applications that have been created for them are simply amazing. If you are looking for a specific tool to help a struggling child learn, as Apple would say “There’s an App for that”! If used properly, this can be transformative for our students.
I can see in the near future, the ability of students to use this technology to individualize their learning within my classroom. To allow students to work at their own pace, become creative in their learning, and help them better connect with the concepts and outcomes that we are striving to teach them. As we would all agree, doing an activity that is interesting, fun, and is personally rewarding, makes learning it easier. By allowing students to take ownership of their education, current problems of lack of motivation and the feeling of disconnect, could be reduced.
Teachers now have the ability to become the true facilitators of learning, which I believe, we all started out to be. The technological tools available to us are the keys to transforming our classrooms into the positive, fun and interesting places students want them to be!