How to describe these last few days in San Antonio. Tiring comes to mind as I sit on the bed in the hotel room, legs and feet grateful for the relief. That is one BIG convention center. But that feeling is quickly replaced by one of amazement. Amazement as I think of all the wonderful people I met each day, when thinking of the brilliant women I shared dinner with last night at the Ed Tech Women event at Rita’s on the River, and when reflecting on the conversations had and the commitment expressed to help children realize their full potential. And of course I had a blast getting the chance to talk about my research to so many people (thanks to you all for seeming so interested!)
I did not see or experience even 1/8th of what ISTE had to offer, no one person could. But through the wonders of technology, ie Twitter, I was able to get a sense of what I was missing, to grasp concepts/ideas/tech implementation practices that can finally help education break through that execution barrier that seems to keep our classrooms in the industrial age. I know that my teaching will change because of what I experienced during the conference. Next semester I will be teaching preservice teachers how to teach science, and current teachers in our graduate program how to implement technology in their classrooms. What better but to provide them with learning experiences that model practices they should implement in their own classrooms? It is time to leave the teacher-centered paradigm behind.
I need help to do this, however. In order to model the collaboration skills critical for their students’ success, I will try to find instructors teaching these same courses in order to share ideas and materials. Ideally the collaboration would extend to instructors in different countries. Learning about teaching practices and philosophies outside our local context could help our preservice teachers “think outside the box” and extend their conceptions of what a teacher can be and the many ways children can learn. Most importantly, I need to make my teaching practice transparent in order for them to learn that a teacher can “change her stripes”. As a high school teacher, I did employ technology and inquiry practices, but they were strongly guided inquiry practices. So now I will step back a bit, help my students form PLNs to use as learning resources during the course and to help them continue to develop their practice after completing the course. The process I go through as I change my teaching style needs to be explicit; modeling that we can evolve as teachers when it will benefit our students to do so.
It will be an uncomfortable process as it means I must leave my comfort zone. I’ve received very good evaluations so I know my past students have felt my current teaching style meets their learning needs. But I know it is not enough if my goal is to help them become truly effective teachers, teachers that will be able to change the current education paradigm and bring the full promise of technology into their classrooms. Even though I will only have a few students, those students will affect many lives during their teaching careers. For their sakes, their students’ sakes, and my own sake, I need to challenge myself to implement what I know is necessary to help them see what is possible. Anyone want to join me?