I went to an all-day workshop to keep my teaching license current. Someday I may end up back in a classroom, you never know. I love that I get to keep in touch with what is going on in the teaching world outside the walls of my home school ‘classroom’ in this way.
Our state’s board of education has a research group that puts together information based on what is happening in our public schools. They put together these workshops based on that information in an effort to present teachers with what they see as the most critical for them to know and address in their classrooms. That alone is interesting to hear, as is sitting in a room full of teachers hearing them discuss their needs and opinions, as much or little as the trainer allows.
This one was held in a local high school building that is pretty new, a large brick structure with hardly a window in it. They scheduled us with no breaks between sessions, and after a long day under fluorescent lights, I was craving some fresh air and sunshine! Many things from the day struck me.
One of our other 5 sessions was labeled Positive Behavior Strategies a.k.a. classroom management. We talked about rules and consequences, how each teacher needs to establish clearly and re-teach the rules as often as necessary to manage the behavior outbursts in their classroom. The example given of 4 rules in a class was “Be Prompt. Be Polite. Be Positive. And Be P… “ (something else, I forget.) The presenter told us how every behavior a child does can fit into one of these categories which the child can then be held accountable for. I understand that there has to be some kind of a system in place when you gather that many children in one building all day and expect things to run smoothly. Yet, I kept sensing that somehow this whole approach is not treating a child as a person. I wanted to ask, “If someone kept repeating those things in your ear, how would you respond?” Don't worry, I didn't.
The attendees in the “Behavior” session gave numerous examples of even kindergartners they had heard saying “I can’t do that. I’m not good at ____” a certain subject. Heads nodded in agreement that it’s too young to already be carrying that load! What I see in Mason’s motto is that it speaks truth. ‘We are God’s workmanship’ and ‘For God so loved the world’ are phrases come to mind. We need to train children from little on to embrace who they are as children of God so that they can have strength through trials. We need to tell them that struggles will come, but that they have a choice of what to make of those hard times. I’m still curious how that room full of teachers would have responded to this twist on the traditional set of rules and procedures in a classroom setting.
Take 4 minutes and watch this: Goomoodleikiog 4 Students
Our last session of the day was with a trainer from ISTE , who is also an elementary teacher. It was about integrating technology into the classroom. We were given ‘tools’ for using technology in classrooms whenever possible, with the idea being that, kids are on their ipads or cell phones etc. all day anyhow, so why not show them the educational side of those things in hopes that they will opt for that over games when they are at home too. Our trainer said he was not allowed to field questions about why teachers and schools are being pushed to flip their classrooms, because the training time was for the 'tools'.
His point was, “Kids love it;” technology IS coming, so embrace it. He used his classroom as the example while handing us all the links we needed to follow suit. He has his students watch the pre-recorded lesson as many times as they need to. They then submit their assignments as Google documents, visible to all other students for peer critiquing. Assignments are posted on the class blog and when completed are linked there so that all parents, and the administrator etc. can see how children are doing. For the weekly video assignments, kids take home the class cameras and tape themselves. These are put on the site too. At this rate, he said, a child’s entire education will be documented and accessible online, so college entrance exams won’t be necessary. We will just hand over our kid’s file and password to whichever college they wish to attend. Imagine a pencil and paperless classroom... (enter twilight zone music here.)
Check this out: 21 Things That Will Be Obsolete By 2020.
I just have a few questions: Where do home schools fit into this? Will we to try to measure our child’s learning against what a certain school or state education system is doing? How does our God-given role as the parental authority figure over our children come into play in all this?
Yep, my day as a ‘teacher’ with the state’s education system left me much to ponder…