Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The changing face of teaching

This morning, our numbers were boosted by two student teachers who joined in on the discussion.

We know “school” don't we?
Everyone knows how to teach, or at least knows how school works, because "we've all been to school." How different is it to stand on the other side of that teacher desk, especially for a beginning teacher? How has the job of teaching changed over the years for those of us "veterans"?

What will schools look like in 5 or 10 years? The pundits keep telling us that it will "all be different" in a decade or so (although the arrival seems to get pushed back every year) but we are seeing a change in our students, bit by bit, as the technology begins to push its way into the classroom. We're seeing more laptops, iPods and iPhones. Students want the topics we cover to be relevant. "Why are we learning this?" is a common refrain. And the answer "because it's on the test" or "because it's in the chapter" doesn't cut it anymore. Dates and names and places are easy to Google. What's more important is how things fit together. It is a continuing challenge to engage students who find that their most compelling course is "Facebook 11".

It is an exciting time to enter education. Think of all the outside resources we have at our fingertips...or at least the students do: Youtube, papers, journals, blogs, GoogleEarth, etc.

Of course, there is a core to good teaching that never changes: teachers who help kids make meaningful connections between ideas and their own lives.

What are the implications for our time-tested routines and structures? We still have the bells, and the timetables and the classrooms and the lunch breaks. Are we rethinking how we approach the subjects we love (English, Science, Socials etc) and rethinking how we teach them?

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