It was an enthusiastic – and still massive – crowd that gathered for the ISTE 2014 Endnote presentation. We down-to-earth Aussies were once again amused and bemused by the whole “talk show” genre, especially as the President insisted on the whole audience (of thousands) standing up, turning round and taking selfies with her image on the big screen. Only in America! The local enthusiasm is extraordinary, inspiring, contagious and charming, although a little OTT to some of us!
The endnote lecture was delivered by Jeff Charbonneau, US 2013 National “Teacher of the Year”. He began in the full-on evangelistic mode we had come to expect, but very quickly won me over as he relaxed and began to talk about teaching with the passion, clarity, insight and humour that obviously earned him the accolade and the respect of his colleagues and country. What a shame he had not been the opening keynote! His message was professionally uplifting and delivered with an ease that comes from actually believing and living the understanding and practice that you are sharing. He explored the topic of teaching in C21, using the notion of “What If…” to look at potential positives that can grow from change if teachers and institutions approach it in the right way. He also explored the “humanity” of teaching in an overtly technological world.
Key points included:
- Provide for exploration, consider what drives students
- Embrace curiosity, dig in the mud, get dirty, go on excursions, get outdoors, use mobile devices, use authentic tasks
- Encourage risk-taking in yourself as well as your students
- Be flexible when circumstances change, including changing student interests and needs
- Problem solving needs to be ACTIVELY modelled for kids. Involve them in it. For example admit “I know nothing about it , but lets do it anyway.”
- Thinking “what if…” gives you the courage to do things that don’t already exist inside you; it drives you to do greater things and different things.
- Prepare students to be self-sufficient before your ask them to be group- sufficient. The groups will work a whole lot better.
- Teachers SHOULD strive to be able to think outside their subject area; Integrate every time you get the chance. Broaden your own horizons.
- Abandon comfort zones for the good of your students. We embarrass ourselves for the kids in our classes (eg. to make learning more fun, and us more human) and now we need to do it for our profession. Go out on a limb in the community to fight for what your students need.
- The best answer in education is – “IT DEPENDS”. Don’t pick sides (of trends) too quickly – do your own informed thinking about what can work best for YOUR students. Be well-informed and understand all sides of an argument or theory.
- Teach the parents and policy makers just as you teach the students. How can they understand where you are going if you don’t articulate. Listen to them too.
- Imagine – only teach the students in your class the way you would teach your principal! Be respectful, always.
- Content is not the GOAL – it’s the method. Put positive relationships and love of lifelong learning before anything else. Then it’s easy to deliver the content.
- Add in the ed tech only where it fits the best. It’s not the only answer to everything.
These last three points were my “take-aways” from his talk, both as an educator and a parent. Profound and a little confronting, they deserve reflection on both fronts:
- At times, teachers SHOULD FAIL! Show your students what it looks like to fail and how to pick yourself back up. Be human. Own your failure so that kids can learn from it and grow their own RESILIENCE and productive STRATEGIES.
- (His words) “I have to teach, nurture and respect every kid in America because any one of them might marry my daughter.” Any child you teach might become a member of YOUR family one day! Care for them and believe in them with this in mind.
- We are the guardians of hope and the future. Our job is to give hope and capacity to “the new us”.
I really enjoyed this lecture and, for me, it finished the ISTE 2014 conference on a high note.