Let's Talk Student Centered Learning and Teachers Who Care. Changing the World One Student at a Time.
It's been over 10 years now since I became CIO at The College of Westchester and started my first ed tech blog (which officially turned into EmergingEdTech in April of 2009). It's been 8 years since I started running online workshops for teachers. This is my 6th year teaching college courses. I've learned a lot in and it's been a fun ride.
Without a doubt, one of the most important things I've learned is that all of this yattering about tech, tools, and teaching amounts to nothing if we aren't helping students succeed at school and grow as individuals. Teachers helping students learn how to learn, explore, and thrive in school and life is in many ways the ultimate outcome we can aim for in education.
I often have to put in additional effort with one or more students in a given course to help and encourage them to achieve a higher level of success in their course work. It's usually a rewarding experience for both of us. My classroom is about the students sitting in it, not me. I am a facilitator, and enabler, a catalyst. The students are the reason we are all here.
Yet I hear stories too often from my kids about the negative, discouraging, and at times downright disrespectful treatment they receive from some of their teachers. The dichotomy of this tears at me. It drives me to write here, and to look for opportunities to help support and inspire the teachers out there who do care (or who might just need a little pick-me-up to make it work better tomorrow).
I want to hear and share YOUR story
Remember last year, last month, or last week, when you made that extra effort to pull a student aside and ask, “what's going on?” Maybe they had suddenly stopped turning in good work, or maybe they hadn't really started but the potential was so evident?
Sometimes a student's behavior, attendance, performance, etc., changes and it is far from obvious why. Often we see students who just aren't coming close to what they are likely capable of. We can choose to treat that as “same stuff, different day” or we can try and look for opportunities to step in and at least open a door for dialogue.
Of course, there are also the stories about students who are doing well and but may be looking for a spark to really take it up a level. It can be a lot of fun to help those kids find those opportunities – ignite those sparks. Have you helped some of those students find what they are looking for to fire up their imaginations?
Even when we just embrace our students and show them the respect of wondering what matters to them, and working to figure out how we can bring the subjects we teach to life in ways that relate to them, we make a difference. School can be boring and endlessly frustrating for advanced and creative students, they need extra attention too.
Did any of what you just read strike a chord with you? I'd love to hear your comments (or even share a guest post if you're up for that). I believe other educators like to hear what their peers are doing and learn, get some inspiration, feel supported in their own efforts, remember why we're all here.
And yes, I know this is an edtech site, but technology is just a tool, another means be which we can help move the needle as we strive to help our students. I've been digging into and writing about how we can connect learning techniques supported by the science of learning with computer technology, and will continue to do so, but in the meanwhile it's nice to also focus a little directly on teachers supporting student success by caring and communicating.