Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Post-class Reflection: July 27, 2012

Learning about the various web tools that I didn't yet know how to use...


I had fallen behind in that race, and I'm glad that time in our program has been devoted to helping us keep up. And I know that I am not the only one that is "behind" in this sense. But I have observed (and heard) some dissenting opinions about putting further effort into learning about and integrating certain tech tools in the classroom.

Here is what I think about literacy and technology....

In reflecting about this past session, I have repeatedly returned to what I see as a very important relationship between teachers, ethos, and effective instruction:

Is it not true that a teacher's fluency/literacy in technology (used here in the broadest terms), can influence that teacher's ethos of competence and authority in front of his/her students? And does this not, then, influence the facilitation of effective instruction and learning?

In other words, in a world where the youngest members of our society are usually the most skilled at using technology, shouldn't we also, as teachers, make an effort to keep up with this? I was told by my prospective mentor instructor that if I, as a student teacher, were to reveal any discrepancy of content area knowledge in front of AP English (or upperclassmen level) students, they would "eat me alive."

And so, the English teacher's ethos is dismantled before her eyes. Her lack of literacy in an area where her students surpass her becomes the vehicle for seeing her as incompetent. Furthermore, a teacher's disinterest in learning more about technology seems to be her denial of the validity and importance of those tools. Tools that her students DO value and use.

If we are seeking to establish a safe environment where our students can learn, isn't a teacher's lack of literacy in technology enough of a reason for students to mutiny academically? to overthrow those efforts to establish a learning environment?

To be "eaten alive" by your own students seems like a huge impediment to teaching and learning. And it's worse, if the reason for the mutiny is because of a lack on our part, and our unwillingness to TRY and LEARN (the way we will fully expect our students to do in our content area) more about what we do not know.

I think that just because we are learning to be teachers, this does not mean that we should ever stop being students.

Technology is fast, and we have so many non-tech responsibilities that we must tend to...all the time.

But one of our most important non-tech responsibilities will be our students. And in order to fulfill our responsibilities to them, we must be competent and knowledgeable. Not just in the areas that WE think are important. But also in the areas that we know our STUDENTS value as important.


  1. I'm really struggling with your final point here. I do agree that we have to stay a minimum of a few steps ahead of our students; standing in front of a class and not knowing the answer to a question (or worse, being exposed as full of it) is the teacher's version of the naked-in-front-of-the-entire-school dream we had as children. Let's never go there. And you're right: we should be constant, eternal students. Does that mean we have to pander, though?

  2. Shelley - I LOVE YOUR POST!!!

    I thoroughly enjoyed teaching in our small group and learning from you and the others about specific web applications and their possible implications in the classroom! (Thank you Kristin and Jeff for the fun lesson plan!) I agree with you HIGHLY, in just how important it is to reach our students in the ways that are conducive for THEIR learning and by their ways of learning. Because isn't that our job? To ask the same question in as many forms of questions as possible to further understanding of a particular concept?? I think so!

    Thank you for making the point that as teachers we will always be expected to be competent and knowledgeable! YES. It really doesn't matter what we, as teachers, think about how to teach our students, if that form/teaching strategy is completely inaccessible to our students. Isn't Deanna's favorite thing to say (based on her work with high leverage practices): "Can you honestly say you have taught something, if there isn't any evidence of that learning?" In other words, how can we say that since we are knowledgeable of our content and we "taught" our students in ways WE think best, but our students don't retain the information as well due to the outmoded form of certain teaching practices?? Insert technology here!

  3. You hit the nail on the head! I am petrified of being the teacher that can't answer a student's question. The teacher that has to spend 10 minutes floundering in front of the class trying to get a simple PowerPoint to work, all the while my students are giggling at my inability to perform such a simple task. You are right, we have a duty to our students to model good behavior and expectations. If we display our stubborn unwillingness to learn something new, what type of message are we sending to our students that we are trying to get to appreciate the nuances of a well written argumentative essay (or anything else we teach in class that seems so OLD SCHOOL). Our job is also to present information in a way that students will understand and pay attention to. If we stick to our guns (and old methods of instruction), we will start to lose our student's attention. It is going to be hard work trying to figure out all the new technology, but hey, we are going to be teachers. Surely there will be another teacher out their willing to teach us their ways :).