Re-imagining 2030: Where to Start

I hear this line over and over again, but I can’t help but reiterate it:

This is an exciting time to be a teacher.

How is it not an exciting time to be a teacher? With so many changes happening, so many new tools and philosophies to research and adapt to, teachers have the opportunity to rethink teaching in so many ways. With this can come excitement for students as well, where they can not only be the early adopters of these new and upcoming changes to education, but also be the providers of knowledge to teachers of what and how they can learn best. We are in an interesting time of education, and change carefully needs to be addressed.

Thankfully, we are on the road to change at our school board. Just this past Friday, our Teaching and Learning Technology Committee (TLTC) hosted a full-day event entitled ‘Re-Imagining Learning: The Road to 2030 at NPSC Round Table‘. The title and theme for the event was adapted from the series TVO on the Road: Learning 2030, where many resources and recorded plenary sessions can be found. Given that we as a system are currently determining a formal vision in all areas for  thes chool board, we took some of what was found throughout this series and shared it with staff to get their thoughts on what they would like their schools/offices/classrooms to look like.

Participation for the day included 50-60 staff with representation from senior administration, teachers, students and IT. Round table discussions took place throughout the day on a variety of pre-selected questions by members of the TLTC, broken up with videos as well as an excellent presentation by a group of grade twelve students (I’ll talk about this in a post on its own). The day was a tremendous success – so much so that I have to share with you my thoughts from it. Here’s part one of a few parts to come from this eventful and exciting day.

What ‘should’ our classrooms ‘ look like? There is no right or wrong answer to  this question, as every teacher is different, especially when it comes to integrating technology. I left Friday’s event with so many thoughts, however a few words that stuck with me were flexible, accessible, and innovative.

In an educational time where the options are endless for how we as teachers can deliver meaningful and effective instruction, students need options for how they can be not only consumers, but also creators of rich content. One of the more interesting discussions that took place was on cell phones and personal devices students come in. Given that some (I could almost say most here) students can’t be without their mobile devices for any period of time, we can take advantage of the opportunity to put these expensive and powerful tools in their possession to productive use.

I read a two blog posts recently – one by Tina Barseghian titled: How Teachers Make Cell Phones Work in the Classroom, and the other 5 reasons cell phones benefit a 1:1 environment by Lisa Nielsen – that echoed some of the conversation from our discussions on Friday, which got me to thinking. I’m sure there are many similar articles and blog posts out there, but these stuck with me as they covered many of the key points that are important to consider when trying to bring in such a controversial technology into your classroom. I only use the word ‘controversial’ here as you can already imagine, there are always going to be the naysayers to this type of idea – hopefully not for too much longer!

Gone are the days that we should ask students to ‘holster’ their devices at the door. These devices are tools that can easily be integrated to some component of instruction. As Tina covers in her post, the power of a tool such as Socrative as an example, personal devices can be put to constructive and good use.

I’m running out of time with this one, but stay tuned for follow up posts on this day, as so much was taken from it.

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