Raising awareness often means putting yourself out there. Recently I agreed to be in a video to raise awareness around professional development for teachers because my students have directly benefitted from the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning) with MindLab.
There are some really strong avenues out there to build teacher 21st skills to pass onto our students. There are also many ways a teacher can now receive professional development (PD), but not all are equal. Not all will provide better outcomes for students (or teachers). Over the 10 years that I have been teaching I’ve attended loads of courses. Some good, and some just plain boring. So if the purpose of PD is to make me a better teacher, and therefore make a positive impact on my students, shouldn’t the PD be interesting, interactive and looking to develop my 21st Century skill set?
Click on thislink to watch the video (you will need a Facebook account to watch this).
I believe that new technologies and global migration are influencing and shaping the classroom I teach in and I will share why.
The first issue is the impact of technologies on education. The 20th Century education system prepared students to work in industries that required a set of skills that do not serve students that are part of a 21st Century world. Back in the day students used pens to record their learning in books, and teachers stood at the front of the class disseminating content into students, like porridge being forced through a funnel into what was thought an empty vessel. Times have changed, and the development of technology has seen that schools are increasingly moving towards the use of tablets, iPads and Chromebooks to record learning; using the internet to find information and connect with people from different cultures and continents around the world.
The teacher’s role now, is to facilitate their learning, not stand in the way of it. So how is this shaping education in New Zealand? It’s simple. Students now need more than ever to leave school with the ability to engage with current and emerging technologies. This exposure plays an important role in enabling and creating new learning opportunities and ways of learning for our students, similar to what they will contend with in the working environment. (Bolstad, Gilbert, McDowall, Bull, Boyd, & Hipkins, 2012, p5).
How do we as teachers ensure that our students can survive in the ever changing 21st Century where the technology is changing faster than Usain Bolt can run the 100 metre sprint? We must adapt our teaching pedagogy and practices. We must actively learn the skills we need to teach. Now is the time for teachers to be thinking about how they can work together with their students in a “knowledge-building” learning environment. Bolstat, Et Al. (2012, p16) discusses the importance of teachers equipping students to do things with the knowledge they have learned, to use knowledge in inventive ways, in new contexts and combinations. In addition to this, they require opportunities to explore who they are and have a strong sense of self worth, a sense of whanaungatanga. They need to be thinkers that are critical and creative; able to engage and share their ideas with people from all walks of life. And most importantly recognise that ongoing learning will be part of their everyday lives, so they remain adaptable and open to change.
If teachers do not adapt their pedagogical practice by taking on recognised professional development and learning how to use the technology available to their students, they merely act as an anchor around their student’s neck. Personally I have made the leap and have become a facilitator in my student’s learning, taking on study to challenge my existing beliefs and to develop my own 21st Century skills.
The second issue I believe will affect the education sector is global migration. New Zealand Immigration is currently offering immigrants the opportunity to combine lifestyle with a career in technology. So how does this affect education? With over 75,000 people in New Zealand currently employed in ICT-related roles, one cannot ignore the potential impact they place on unprecedented demands on healthcare, social services and education systems (UNESCO, 2008, p2). Teachers need to provide migrant children with linguistic integration to help them transition into formal schooling. If this is not done successfully these children will not attain an education that will allow them to access roles that will provide them with the ability to contribute to the economic base of their community.
So how can I help my students have positive outcomes as migrants? I work to provide them with opportunities to form relationships with peers that will help develop their sense of whanaungatanga, a sense of belonging. I do my best to take as many opportunities that present themselves to celebrate their home cultures in my classroom so they feel valued and understood. I also provide opportunities for my migrant students to fully participate to the best of their ability in their new environment with support so they feel valued and safe (UNESCO, 2008 p2).
Ultimately any change in society will be felt in the educational sector, and there is no quick fix. However, I do believe that an openness to ongoing pedagogical development, learning about and actively applying best practice will lead us towards better outcomes for our students, which in turn provide better outcomes for our communities.
Whanaungatanga = sense of belonging, friendship or a reciprocal relationship