Tuesday, 28 April 2015

We have to stop pretending... #makeschooldifferent

A couple of weeks ago I was challenged by Amy Szerminska to think about the following...

See Amy's 5 things here.

I am finally getting around to writing my thoughts, better late than never!

We have to stop pretending...

1) That student well-being can be nurtured effectively without regularly and intentionally addressing the well-being of the greater school community. I believe that nurturing well-being should be embedded in all that we do, in every subject, in the decisions that we make and in our interactions with others.   Well-being and healthy decision making is not something to simply teach in health class or during Children's Mental Health Week. In planning to address mental health and well-being, schools need to be pro-active and look at the well-being of students, staff, families and communities as interrelated components. These groups do not function independently from each other and all of those voices need to be "at the table" in wellness planning. Schools are hubs of their communities and are a perfect venue to be used to support community, and therefore student well-being.

2) That textbooks are essential. They're not, they are just a familiar tool for educators. I would even venture to say that sometimes they are counterproductive to some of the skills we want to develop in our students, particularly older textbooks that we have in schools.

3) That using technology at a "substitution" level is something educators don't need to move  beyond.  Use of technology is not something that needs to be checked off a "to do list". The use of technology for technology's sake where it is used as a direct substitute with no functional change is an important component of technology use to help accomplish specific tasks.  An example of this is when classes use a computer for word processing, in which case  the computer is simply turned into a $1000 pencil.  This is certainly a reasonable use of technology, but we need to move beyond it to the augmentation, modification and redefinition of tasks through the use of technology. This involves using the right tool for the task and using technological tools to improve, redesign, or reinvent new tasks that would previously be impossible without the use of technology.   This also involves educators taking risks and trying new things...technology changes so quickly, we can't wait for P.D. Our student's don't wait for P.D.  We need to learn alongside them in this area.

4) The physical set up of most schools is the most conducive environment for learning. Lets face it, the classroom set up of most schools is not physically comfortable. Think about it, when you go home at night, do you pull up one of the blue plastic chairs we have in our classrooms to sit for a couple hours and work or read? If you're like me, you may work on a couch or have options of different work areas, depending on the task. I love to see the concept "learning happening everywhere" being nurtured in schools, particularly in our FDK classes.

5) Engagement = learning. We need to look beyond whether students are engaged to determine how students are constructing new knowledge from activities.

What are your 5 things? #makeschooldifferent