Friday, March 29, 2013

Teaching 21st Century Skills: Are you doing enough?

We've heard it time and time again that we need to shift our thinking as teachers, and we need to teach students to be thinkers. But have most of us really made any changes? I know that I personally haven't done enough. I haven't nearly moved out of my comfort zone enough to reach the 21st century teaching/learning needs. So the following words are as much a pep talk for myself, as for anyone else.

Maybe we've made small steps to change the way we teach, and we pat ourselves on the back for it. My students use ipads and access my wiki for continuous learning daily. Yea for me, right? Is that enough? When I'm really honest with myself, I feel like if that's all I'm doing to adapt and keep up, I'm short-changing my students.

I think baby steps can be ok as long as you make many steps in the right directions at a rapid enough pace to not get left behind... or rather, leave your students behind. Don't get stuck by making one small change, patting yourself on the back, and then sinking back into complacency. Keep going! Keep learning! Keep pushing! (Right, Audrey?!)

So, what's the right direction to move towards?

Research is the first step in defining the right direction. Don't just take your administrators' word for it. Learn for yourselves what's out there in the world. What theories, pedagogy, resources, etc. are available and have showed evidence of success, and possibly more importantly, what do you feel in your gut is really going to push you and your students and your future students? What gets your blood flowing? Make makes you a little nervous, but just feels right?

After you've researched and got your mind thinking about new ideas, make a plan for yourself and a goal for how you want your classroom to operate. What do you really want the students to do on a daily basis? Then work backwards to create a plan to reach that goal.

This video will help you learn about the new and necessary skills we need to be guiding our students to learn. Hopefully, the speaker will make you think about how you want to guide your students to learn. We don't need to teach our students; we need to guide them to learn to teach themselves.

I also enjoyed this TED talk about improving education.

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