The Rubber has Met the Road

The Long Road - Flickr photo by Ohad

The Long Road - Flickr photo by Ohad

Two weeks from today, schools in Minnesota will be in session.  Our homes  and schools are in a whirlwind preparing for the 09-10 school year.  Parents are hopefully finishing their school shopping while many of our teachers are beginning to get their classroom ready for their incoming students.

But – will all our classrooms truly ready for these learners?  For the past 3 years, Byron has been fortunate to have great thinkers share their thoughts during our summer’s professional growth academy. In 2007, Dr. Scott McLeod started his virtual keynote address s by quoting Bob Dylan’s phrase  “Times are a changing…”  The following summer, Doug Johnson described  Schools and Libraries for the Net Generation. This summer, David Warlick presented to a group of 50+ Byron educators about the need for Byron school district to Redefine Literacy for the 21st century and the importance of educators to develop their own personal learning networks!

Today…times are not only changing – they HAVE changed.  I began my journey with this district 13 years ago and as I reflect on how the world has evolved….it is astounding!  Back in 1996, the district installed its first LAN with 30 Windows 95 – Pentium 133 MHZ desktops.  Email was a luxury, gradebooks weren’t electronic, word processing wasn’t quite the norm, and no one had even heard of Google. Today, email is viewed as an archaic method of communication, students and parents have portal access to their teacher’s gradebook, desktop word processing is being replaced with cloud computing, and students come to class with Google in their pockets.

This year is pivotal. I have had many educators come to me with BRILLIANT ideas –  Blended learning, Wikis, Classroom Blogs, Video projects, podcasting,  and classrooms infused with Web2.0  tools to  assess their students’ learning.

So what is the worry?  I am fearful that there are still educators who are dusting of the curriculum and lesson plans that was utilized back in the days of the 133mhz Pentiums.   Furthermore, I am even more worried about the future of the students whom will sit (and get) the same education as students did 13 years ago.  As many of our educators are rising to the 21st century education challenge, taking risks,  continuously trying to improve and develop high quality, relevant courses and classrooms, there are still those whom are perfectly content teaching as they did in 1996.   Is this still acceptable?   Are these classrooms preparing our students to truly be lifelong learners in a global economy?

  1. Jen: Very well said. I have noticed in the past few years that there seems to be an overall doom and gloom aura around education thanks to the punitive nature of accountability, lack of funding, and the continued layering of requirements without resources to meet them. Despite all this, I think we have educators out there who are dedicated to providing an engaging experience for their students, and my question is, how do we leverage their enthusiasm and get it to catch on with others?

  2. Great post! It is amazing to think how much has changed in such a short amount of time. It is fantastic to hear how many teachers are excited about doing new tech integrated projects. While I share your concern for those who feel content to be complacent I also worry about what we might loose jumping into these new waters. While new technologies definitely change what students need to know to some degree we still need to keep a close eye on what our learning goals are and what students need to come away with. The technologies we use in our classrooms need to serve these purposes. It is all too easy in our excitement about new tools to wind up teaching tech and not use the tech to aide our teaching and learning. I am as guilty as anyone of this and am constantly having to remind myself of this whenever I get excited about a new technology tool.

  3. I think teachers are key to spreading the message! I am happy to say that we are fortunate to have great talent in Byron and I am continually amazed at the innovative ideas they (teachers) come up with to engage and assess student learning in our district. Big WIN for us! I also recently came across a report shows a teacher’s success, when measured by students’ test scores, improves when that teacher gets better colleagues in his/her own school. I hope this movement of personal learning and the desire for quality/relevant education spreads and we pick up those who have been slow to change. I am in full agreement with Carl in that it is not the tool that counts – but the learning that is associated with the tool!

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