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What Does Your Classroom Look Like?

I was on Twitter today and I came across the following blog: http://www.usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com.  It’s a great blog and highly recommend reading it.  One post that caught my eye was about the evolving classroom.  Here is the quote:

“There’s a dark little joke exchanged by educators with a dissident streak: Rip Van Winkle awakens in the 21st century after a hundred-year snooze and is, of course, utterly bewildered by what he sees. Men and women dash about, talking to small metal devices pinned to their ears. Young people sit at home on sofas, moving miniature athletes around on electronic screens. Older folk defy death and disability with metronomes in their chests and with hips made of metal and plastic. Airports, hospitals, shopping malls–every place Rip goes just baffles him. But when he finally walks into a schoolroom, the old man knows exactly where he is. “This is a school,” he declares. “We used to have these back in 1906. Only now the blackboards are white.”– usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com

Why do classrooms/schools feel and look the same as they did when I was in high school? Fear of change? Educators (teachers, administrators, supervisors) being too comfortable or not wanting to challenge the status quo?  We have to provide the best education we can for our students and in my mind that is not rote memorization (don’t ask questions Google can answer), it is not packets of worksheets (all worksheets are not evil, but worksheets do not leave a positive, lasting impression on students), and it’s not cookie cutter activities where the one size fits all and all students are working on the same activity.  School Leaders (administration and teachers) need to model and lead the change that is needed to impact and engage our students now.  We need to model PD that is based on pedagogy and strategies that will have students engaged and having a voice in their education; Socratic Seminars, Differentiation and allowing students to have a voice and choice, using Rubrics in classes so that grades are not subjective and surprising to students, and utilizing current technologies/resources.  Catherine Poling shared today on Twitter: “Make sure our ed decisions keep in mind our students’ world; not the world we grew up in. My daughter has never lived in a world w/o FB”.  Are we considering the worlds our students are living in when planning or are old plans dusted off because they are comfortable and have worked in the past? Students will be bored and not engaged if we stand and lecture for the entire class.  Students want to dialogue in class, not hear a monologue.  I believe school leaders have to be the change and model the change they want to see.  PD has to be differentiated to meet all staff on needs they have and it should include staff voice on those needs.  Faculty meetings and department meetings should not be sit and get but a chance for teachers to dialogue with each other and have resources to take back and use in class.  Model the change you want and “inspect what you expect” (I’ve heard this quote multiple times for school leaders) and I believe we can start having our schools looking like it’s 2015 and not 1985.

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