Today I was in my happy place, on the beach. We decided to take a last minute family trip with the kids before the hectic start of school. When I walked out on the sand first thing I noticed were people pointing and staring out on the water. There were 3 dolphins swimming near shore, they always take this path that time of day but never so close in. I was literally dropping everything to get out my camera to video take a picture of them. But there was a group of college aged girls next to us that were so busy trying to get a group picture they missed the dolphins right behind them. Good thing it wasn’t a shark.
The thing is, we can blame technology or narcissist generation but they are just doing what they do. When teen/college girls go to beach, they take a picture and Instagram and snapchat it. Sometimes doing what we always do is ok, but sometimes we get so hung up in what we do we miss changes to everything around us. When I’m on the beach I make the effort to watch the sky behind me, why, because too often I’m facing the Gulf and miss the storm forming behind me.
We all do this but what are we missing? What are we missing when we plan our lessons during the summer and haven’t met our kids yet? What are we missing when we pretty much teach the same way we did 6 years ago? 20 years ago? We are missing the students we have today. We are missing the lives they live. Most middle school students haven’t ever been dropped off at a mall to hang with friends. High school students are younger than Google. IPads are older than kindergarteners. So how do your students hangout without malls? How do they find out information and learn something new? And yes, you’re right, younger kids don’t know how to use a mouse and a keyboard because they have only used touch screens.
Think about your lesson planning and PD, is the focus on what you’ve always done with a little tech or something new mixed in? Every time I introduce Google Suite to teachers for first time or really start digging into the tools it never fails, I have a teacher that says, “don’t teach my kids that, they will cheat/not work.” That’s one statement that really drives me nuts. Is cheating finding the answers? Isn’t that what you want them to do, answer your question? Does it matter if it was memorized or Googled? It shouldn’t because Google is with them 24/7. Maybe they should be applying that knowledge instead. Take into consideration that when teaching this generation. While a teacher could be demanding a student memorize the circumference of a circle, Google made it where when you ask for circumference it gives you a calculator to put in your radius and it tells you the answer. So instead have kids find circumference of a round irrigation farm but using the measurement tools in Maps and find the best method to get the water from the well. Are the changes in the world around us being considered?
One last thing, take a moment to look at your student supply list. I saw one few days ago with a dictionary on it. We won’t say anything more than I saw it, and this was for middle school in a BYOD middle school. A dictionary. My mom said, “well it’s a good thing to learn, dictionaries show you how to pronounce words.” If I’m in chrome, I highlight a word, it defines it and will even read it to me. That’s not going away. While the same parents are purchasing two, yes two, trapper keeper type binders (around $15 to $20 each) because that’s how one teacher has always used for organization and the school purchases paper planners, my high school math teacher has created a Google Classroom that will sync to calendar and hold resources and videos for her students in an organized way. While one focused on the same thing that worked for them, my math teacher was looking for ways to help students if 2018 not 1998 when I was in her class. (Just FYI the majority of middle schoolers have trouble with binders because the organization part of their brain isn’t strong during those years. Binders, tabs, loose leaf paper, set up for failure especially if you have notebook checks.)
Are we trying to make 30, or 160 of you’re secondary, students adapt to the one teacher in the room or are you, the one, trying to adapt to the 30/160 lives in your classroom? I took enough stats to know what will have a better success rate. I know nothing is perfect and some old ways work and help with testing, sometimes access is an issue, but we need to step back from our norm and look at what is changing around us. How can we change to not so much keep up but really teach our students of today while preparing them for a world we can’t even imagine. While sitting there today at beach two younger teachers were talking about how crazy it is they have to spend time teaching cursive when they would rather be helping kids learn or even type. Atta girls! That’s exactly it. They see the changes.
Those going back to school next week or so, best luck on this school year. Enjoy every minute!