Interesting question for a teacher. I have always thought that a teacher could teach anything. My certification is in high school mathematics, but that has not stopped me from teaching subjects out of my certification. As a rural Alaska teacher, it is very common to teach outside your “expertise”. I remember when I had to teach high school biology, physics, health, PE, photography, language arts, and social studies! Many times I was just teaching content I learned the day before, or if I was lucky, looked ahead in the text and was a handful of pages ahead of students. Not the best method for teaching and learning, but you learn to cope, plan, and deliver, and hope you have done a sufficient job in teaching students required curriculum.
In our changing educational system, we are beginning to look at alternative methods of teaching and learning. Makerspaces is one of the promising methods. It’s not new, but it is gaining traction. One of the major shifts affects both teachers and students. Students need to take a more active, empowering role in their learning, and teachers need to take a more supportive, facilitating role in student learning. (Martinez, 2016)
I have tried to incorporate this new ideology in my class the last few years. Not in a makerspace environment, but in a regular classroom environment. There are times that teachers are absent from class, and one of the regular questions that comes up is what are students going to do? Not to disrespect substitute teachers, but many times well-planned directions and activities go the wayside. I have shared with my students that it really is up to them to learn material if a teacher is absent from class, but the response I usually get is that it is MY job to teach and theirs to learn. Not quite the makerspace mindset we want from students!
It is important to allow students to have ownership of their learning. It is a major shift in student expectations. It is my belief that the following three trends can facilitate that: collaboration between teachers and students, technology powered learning, and blended learning. (Barseghian, 2011) Students are accustomed to learning from teachers, but teachers need to be accustomed to learning from students. Students also need to get accustomed to learning from each other. This can happen in the class, or online through social networks. Technology is a powerful tool. Tool the operative word here. Students need to create and use interactive technology for learning. The statistics are shocking concerning technology.
- 75 percent of teachers say they regularly use technology in their classrooms. However, only 40 percent of students report that technology is used in their classrooms.
- 94 percent of students report that they use technology to do their homework, while less than half of all teachers (46 percent) incorporate technology into homework assignments.
- 86 percent of students reported using more technology outside of school than in it.
- Only four out of ten students surveyed by CDW-G felt their schools were meeting their technology expectations.
These are results from a CDW-G survey. (Trierweiler Hudson, 2016) They are disheartening and surprising. There is an obvious disconnect. Teachers and students need to work together on the importance of technology and its utilization in education. It’s encouraging to know that according to another survey, two thirds of parents would purchase a mobile device for their child to use in school. (Trierweiler Hudson, 2016)
With this new information it is possible to proceed with the third trend, blended learning, the use of computers and traditional learning. Students conduct research, watch videos, participate in collaborative online discussions, and so on at home and at school. I believe that students want to use technology in their education, but there appears to be a restrictive environment. At my district, the Internet is severely restricted. It doesn’t help that there are students that search inappropriate sites, engage in social networks, stream all sorts of media that clogs up the broadband, and hack the system. I think if we can teach the proper use of the Internet and behaviors online, we can curb this. There are legitimate reasons for not restricting Internet usage. Although we have parents sign an Internet Permission form that describes the proper behaviors and use of technology at school, the district still restricts full access to the Internet.
I believe that we can achieve this teacher as facilitator and student lead learning model if we incorporate these ideas. There are obvious roadblocks that need attention, but with some work and guidance, we can allow this educational shift to occur.
Barseghian, T. (2011). Three Trends That Define the Future of Teaching and Learning. KQED: Mind Shift. Retrieved from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/02/05/three-trends-that-define-the-future-of-teaching-and-learning/
Martinez, Sylvia Libow; Stager, Gary S.. Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.
Trierweiler Hudson, H. (2016). Do Your Students Know More About Technology Than You Do? Scholastic. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/do-your-students-know-more-about-technology-you-do