Saturday, September 13, 2014

Looking Back to Look Forward

This post corresponds to day #12 of the +TeachThought 30-day blogging challenge, focused on reflective teaching through blogging.  Interested in joining the challenge?  It's not too late! 

When I envision how my teaching will change over the next five years, a couple of themes come to mind: innovation, integration, and integrity.

In order to really start looking forward, though, I fing myself first looking back on how my teaching has changed over the past five years.

A few highlights from 2009-10:

  • I was just getting excited about Google and started using Google Docs and Forms for the first time with students.
  • I used a PB wiki page to share info and resources with students.
  • I helped students create podcasts as a way to share their learning.
  • I was really big on students creating comics using Makebeliefscomix to summarize, predict, and review what they were reading.
  • We did everything on desktops and laptops.

To summarize, a lot of what I did with technology five years ago was to use it as a way to share resources with students, and to assess their understanding of a concept.  It was pretty teacher-driven.  When I did have students create something using technology, I often had already outlined the project for them and they had strict parameters to fulfill.

It's interesting to reflect on my teaching five years ago because although it doesn't seem like that long ago, a lot has changed in that short amount of time...both in technology, as well as in my philosophy about teaching.

So, why do I think innovation, integration, and integrity will be the themes of my teaching over the next five years?

Technology is always changing, so my teaching must continue to evolve and change in innovative ways, too!  When I think of innovation, I not only think about being an innovative teacher with technology, but also in the way I approach teaching.  I want to give students more and more opportunities to innovate and create as they are learning, so continuing to incorporate increasing amounts of student choice into my teaching is something I see in my near future.

Technology will be seen more and more as a vehicle for learning, and will be seamlessly integrated into teaching and learning.  I have already seen increased integration through the shorter introductions I've had to give this year to learning with iPads.  Whereas an iPad intro lesson may have taken 30-45 minutes with first graders last year, this year it took 15!  With shorter time spent on teaching about the tool, we are able to spend more time using the tool as a vehicle for learning.  I think about kids I know who are able to navigate a smart phone at age 2.  The integration of technology and learning is already commonplace for them, and will continue to be more so over the next few years.  As I see it, the task at hand for teachers is to continue to thoughtfully integrate technology as a way to push learning forward and make learning more student-centered.

No matter how much technology changes, certain tenants of good teaching will always remain constant:  the importance of building relationships with students, providing scaffolding and support to give all students access to content and language, the effect of authentic contexts and audiences on learning, the impact of student choice and relevancy of content to a student's life in boosting engagement, and the importance of maintaining strong communication between home and school.  Continuing to maintain the integrity of these best practices will be just as important five years from now (if not more so!) than it is today.

These are my predictions for my teaching five years from now.... Where do you see your teaching in five years?  How will it be similar to or different from your teaching now?