"Would you want to be a learner in your own classroom?"I was a student who struggled to enjoy school throughout my childhood. I was often bored and disengaged. It often felt like the content was there but it was up to me to find it interesting, not the teacher's job to make it interesting. It's one of the reasons I became a teacher, but I've often looked out at my tired, disengaged students and thought:
"Would I want to be a learner in this classroom?"I was making the same mistakes many teachers have made. We have this curriculum, these standards, and this standardized test, so we have to get through this. That's what I would tell my students. We just have to do this. I was empathetic in a sense. I understood my students' frustration but wasn't really willing to take risks. It seemed scary.
I'm trying to be an educator who thinks of the students first and how to engage them. I've taken risks on inquiry-based projects like Cardboard Challenges, Egg Drop Challenges, K'NEX Challenges, and other STEM problems for elementary students. I've been floored by their excitement.
Because of a fantastic coach last year, we began brainstorming innovative ways to deliver my content. She turned me onto Twitter and Google+ where I saw amazing things teachers were doing with videos they had created. I used Snagit to make my own leveled videos for students to help students complete tasks. They can view as many times as they need to complete tasks and move onto the next level. It was a real breakthrough for me as an educator.
A student approached me last year and wanted to make his own videos. I showed him how using free screen capturing software. Weeks later, he showed me all the videos he had created showing others how to play certain video games. He'd become a teacher!!! I thought, "I should have students teach other students using these video creations."
It's moments like these where I do feel like an innovative educator. I need to work on continuing to reflect on what worked and what doesn't. How can I improve this project to better engage my students? How can I turn a menial task into something profound? I hope I'm getting better at it every year.