The School of 2017 (Part 2)

This is the second part in a series entitled The School of 2017. Go to part 1.

It’s been a few days now since I started writing this series and have starting teaching again for the second term in the academic year. In the first post, I discussed briefly some things that I thought would take hold as a whole school. Today, I want to touch on what 2017 will present for students inside the actual classroom and their relationship with teachers.

It’s an exciting time to be a teacher because we’re seeing a shift from teacher-led environments to that of student-led environments. Learning is no longer contained within the four walls of the classroom but students are being encouraged to think outside the box and learn in ways they had never even considered before. We, as teachers, are coming down to their level, recognizing their needs, and teaching them in a way they want to learn. This is a necessity because they are not learning the same way we learned nor are they entering the same world that we did.

Independent learning

As we progress into the future, our understanding of learning becomes more fine-tuned and the need for differentiation becomes more prominent, classrooms will start offering more than just avenue for learning new environments. Teachers will need to adapt their lessons to allow for learning to take place in a way that is best for the individual student. This is not impossible. Technology makes it possible in that it can serve to the individual student what he/she needs and when he/she needs it.

If you are a teacher struggling to reach your student, I would like to introduce you to the hyper-doc – a collaborative document (Google Docs or other) that students can use to discover a set of curated links to learn more about a certain topic. Students go through the lesson at their own pace and discover the way that they like to discover. You never know… they may discover something that you had never intended them to.

I would also like to challenge you to produce videos. Normally, students can learn better from a video as they can rewind, replay, turn on subtitles, etc. Edpuzzle allows teachers to insert questions right into the video, interacting with students in a way that traditional classroom lecturing never could.

Technology, technology, technology

Sometimes I feel like the iPad is my students’ extra limb. My school administration dictates that I take it away from them as to not distract them from their learning. I feel that this is a grave misappropriation of my efforts, as the old saying goes, “Life finds a way.” Why not embrace their fifth limb and teach them the proper usage of the device. There is hardly a day that goes by where my students aren’t doing something on their devices.

Technology will take more and more of a prominent place in the classroom in 2017. Teacher should embrace this and use it to create exciting and engaging lessons that captivate students and increase the chance of learning.

Collaborative environments

Long gone are the days of ‘get out your textbook and complete questions on page 84’ type of classrooms. I feel incredibly irked when I’m asked to cover other teacher’s classes and their cover plans include reading a textbook and answering questions. Students need to be engaged on a deeper thinking level and challenged to connect the subject matter to the real world.

The classroom of 2017 will see more collaboration among students, working together, feeding off of each other’s ideas to come up with something extraordinary. My own classroom, on any particular day, looks like mayhem (I never know what the headmaster is thinking when she passes buy) with students visiting each other’s desks for answers and ideas. Students are working in cooperation with one another, being accountable to their group for each project component, and working closely with me to develop their ideas and manage their learning.

Collaborative environments also contain plenty of self-reflection, as students take charge of their own learning and manage their learning paths. Continuous improvement and constantly learning from mistakes is what makes a good student.

In 2017, teachers will need to learn to come alongside students more in supporting them in their independent learning, use of technology and practicing collaboration with their peers. It’s not easy with no one ever saying that it would be. In fact, I think it would be easier just to walk into a classroom, lecture to them, watch them do their plenary and then give an exam every so often. But every good teacher knows that education is changing, and it’s going to take a lot more work on our part to make the school of 2017 happen.

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