Undergrad Courses

Shift Happens

I feel as though I could write several blogs about the presentation given to us by Karl Fisch, he was so full of knowledge and new ways of thinking.  If I have some extra time I certainly will! I think all educators could benefit from listening to him. I am going to pick a few points and offer my thoughts on them.

I am about to attempt to respond to a statement that I feel is so important and allows for a great deal of discussion in a variety of areas and with a variety of educators.  I was asked to see if I could identify a practice or learning activity that I experienced in university that was potentially rooted in old ways.  To turn that around I have also been asked to discuss that has reflected a more 21st century way of teaching.

The idea of old ways of teaching is something that has bothered me more and more as I have learned about being an educator. When I started university I didn’t know any better, not to say that I am anywhere near being an expert now but there were many instances that I look back on and can’t help but think negatively about. I remember sitting in an indigenous studies 100 class and to exaggerate the situation a little, I am sure you could see smoke coming from my paper I was writing so fast. The class had a great deal of information, of which I found very interesting but learned very little of it, in part due to the fashion in which it was delivered. My professor would stand at the front of the room and talk 100 mph (I know Iam exaggerating again), in combination with this being my first semester of university and a prof with a great deal of knowledge it is fair to say that I was far from successful! What comes to my mind is a quote that Karl Fisch shared in his presentation:

“We cannot solve problems by using the same thinking we used when we created the problem.”  –Albert Einstein

I am sure there are many ways we can look at this one experience of mine but I would like to look at it from the viewpoint of an educator. I think so often we have had the conversation that teachers who have taught for many years and new teachers coming in to the professional are so prone to teach in ways that they were taught. If I were to go in to the classroom and teach the way that I was taught all throughout my life I would be considered an educator who teaches in ‘old ways’. It is a fact of life that we gravitate to what is comfortable.  One way for us to improve this and move towards the 21st century way of teaching is to, do as we are doing in this class and work with other educators and continue to learn from those around us.

The main question that Karl Fisch posed was, what do kids need to be successful? I could go on about all the different aspects of what I feel would answer this question but my first response is to say that students need teachers who are willing to mold themselves and teach for the needs of the students, not the needs of the educator.  As well as teachers who are willing to learn new ways of teaching. It is crucial for educators to realized that change or shift is necessary for the success of all students in the school.

As for instances in university where I feel the teaching methods were more rooted in the 21st century way of teaching, I do not honestly feel that I have had many of those opportunities. To be very honest, this ecmp 455 class that I am taking now is the first class that has allowed me to be an active member in the development of the planning and assessment portion of the class. That is not to say that all of my experiences have been rooted in old ways but to generalize my experiences, the majority would have been viewed as old ways of teaching.

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5 thoughts on “Shift Happens

  1. I had the same experience (as i’m sure 99.9% of University students do too) that in my first couple years all I did was write pages and pages of notes. What did I come out of that class with? Nothing…not even the papers as I threw them in the garbage the minute my final was over! I knew that I would never look back at them. That went for 95% of my classes I took in my first 2 years. They were boring and completely useless to me! At that time in my life I saw nothing wrong with that…yes I found them very boring and hated every minute of those classes, but I just went on with life as that how I thought University would be the whole time (and much like high school). When I look back today I realize how much my views have changed. With that said, even though my views have changed drastically I can honestly say I haven’t done much support my new views. In internship I tried to do as much hands on learning as possible. With the new math makes sense I had no choice but to do that..so I did. However, I hardly touched technology (partially due to my coops beliefs that grades 1/2 should focus more on printing and reading) but I don’t want to blame it all on her! I had my opportunities but I didn’t use them. This is my first class I have taken that really supports teaching in the 21st century…and I am actually finding it a lot harder than I thought it would! I am excited with what I will come out of it with.

  2. I am a technology integrator for a school district in Pennsylvania and I continue to work to make “the shift” continue to happen. I believe it is happening…slowly, but then a lot of change is slow in education! I believe the part of your post that states…”students need teachers who are willing to mold themselves and teach for the needs of the students, not the needs of the educator” is what’s hardest for teachers to face. They need to understand that a change needs to happen in order to prepare students for a future that has never been more uncertain than right now.
    I encourage you to make the most of this class because I believe it is one you will look back on and realize how much of it you are really using in your classroom.
    Best of luck!

    1. Thanks for the comment Chris. I certainly agree the one of the hardest parts for teachers is to figure out how to make that “shift”. One thing I have recently been finding myself wondering is along the lines of relating to veteran teachers as a new teacher. Often I have heard stories of veteran teachers quite apprehensive about integrating technology. I wonder how new teachers are to interact with the veteran teachers who do not appear to like technology and maybe think it is a waste of time or money? Have you had experiences in relation to this? I realize this question takes the situation to the extreme but it is something I have wondered about.

  3. I take your point, and Fisch’s, but we have to be careful with such broad terms as “old ways”, for example. One of the reasons I became a teacher was because I feel that I was ripped off when I went to school. If I could go back, I’d ask to be taught with what I’d call the old ways, the really old ways of a classical liberal education.

    If by old ways you mean the ways of Dickens’ Gradgrind or even the so-called progressive ways of 60s and 70s education, then yes let’s throw those out.

    But unless you are careful to distinguish one kind of old from another, you are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  4. Nicole.
    Your scenario actually does not take the situation to the extreme. In fact, that is a situation I would certainly expect to encounter in an educational setting. As a k-12 technology integrator, I do have to interact teachers that are reluctant to embrace the technology.

    I would suggest two things when dealing with a reluctant, veteran teacher:
    1. Simply share what has worked for you in your classroom. Not in a condescending manner but in a way that displays success with students. This helps them see that technology can be used successfully in the classroom and that the kids are engaged with it.
    2. Offer to lend a hand. Again, this needs to be done in a non-threatening way so they are more likely to accept the help. If you do get the opportunity to work with them, be sure to start with something simple and manageable for them. Build their confidence.

    Unfortunately, you will run into teachers that do not want to be influenced no matter how nice you are or what kind of success you’ve experienced in the classroom. At this point, you need to cut your losses and continue to do what you know is best for students!
    Hope this helps!
    Chris

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