When I first started teaching, my mentor told me, “A great teacher doesn’t need any resources at all–only her students.”
At the time, I believed her.
And you know what? I still do. Some of the greatest teachers I’ve ever known are able to engage students with a story–to break down the most difficult equation to its simplest steps–to take the most tedious task and somehow make it engaging.
All of the great teacher talk is–well–great. And I salute great teachers. Teaching is an art. Taking something that is mundane and somehow making it more in the eyes of a student is truly a remarkable feat.
The need for great teachers will never diminish–I have faith in that.
But the world we live in today is so undeniably different than the one we lived in just 15 years ago when I began my journey as that 22 year-old, naive (girl, really) hoping to one day be able to count myself among those who had changed lives–who had inspired.
When I look around my own school and into the vast web of the wider-world of connections that social media has afforded me, I see resistance to digital learning.
“That’s not really teaching,” I’ve heard, or, “We’re working ourselves out of a job.”
We live in a post-industrial society. Our current educational system is a direct result of the industrial revolution, and that model has really changed very little over the years. It is time for a change.
But, wait…I’m not advocating doomsday on our noble profession…just a slight update.
Think about it. Our students will one day go to work in a digital world. Doesn’t it make sense that they should be educated (at least partially) in one?
There will always be a need for teachers. We just may need to rethink the model from lecturer and whip to facilitator and coach. We’re not working ourselves out of a job by going digital–we are simply redefining our roles and opening a whole new window of opportunities for our students.
With that said, going digital does not mean going teacherless (paperless and teacherless are by no means synonymous–remember slates? queue Little House theme). As a matter of fact, the digital model is simultaneously teacher and student friendly. I’ve got five reasons for that.
5. You Don’t Waste So Much Time Copying
4. Students Want To Be On The Digital Devices
3. Paperwork? What’s That?
2. Everything is Beautifully Streamlined
1. Differentiating and Facilitating Happen Organically
You heard me. The unconquerable beast of formative assessment, of regrouping, of helping small groups and individuals happens NATURALLY in the digital classroom. Generate self-grading quizzes in google forms. Divide and conquer. Remediate. As students submit work, look at it and provide instant feedback. Early finishers can go to enrichment stations. There are so many ways the digital classroom and differentiation go hand-in-hand.
The digital age has not impeded great teaching–it has simply redefined it. We are in a new century, and to teach our students as if we were in the last one is to do them (and ourselves) a disservice.