January is here, which means it’s time once again for New Year’s resolutions. Rather than swearing to lose 10 pounds or finally learn Urdu, three educators from around the country are vowing to improve teaching and learning. Here’s how they plan to do it.
Embrace new technologies and teaching strategies
Craig Perrier, high-school social studies curriculum and instruction specialist
Technology can transform classrooms into global leaning centers of collaboration, innovation and communication. Framing education in this way empowers students to become active learners who develop skillsets that transfer far beyond the classroom. My 2017 New Year’s Resolution for Fairfax County Public Schools is to help educators embrace technology and new teaching strategies by implementing content-focused teacher cohorts.
For example, educators in the blended learning cohort will focus on utilizing technology to augment their instruction and assessment strategies. One technology tool the high school social studies cohort is utilizing is videoconferencing. The platform connects students from around the globe and engages them in 90-minute, face-to-face discussions on a variety of moderated topics. It challenges students’ preconceived notions of people around the world, and in turn they come to learn more about themselves. Ultimately the discussions help students develop a world view that prepares them to excel in a globalized world.
Through the cohorts, educators will share their experiences of what works, creating a supportive environment where teachers are not afraid to try new strategies or tools in the classroom
Listen and learn from your students
Robin Glugatch, librarian and makerspace sacilitator
My New Year’s resolution for 2017 is to take a step back and listen to the conversations the students are having before asking them to quiet down. Through the year, I’ve recognized that not all student conversations are irrelevant to the content, so my goal for the year is to encourage them to take risks and embrace failure instead of stepping in to help them avoid it. I want them to feel secure when they ask the questions that I don’t know the answers to, and I want to truly hear what they are saying when they express their concerns. In 2017, I plan to embrace cultural differences by asking more questions, and encourage each student’s personal strengths by allowing them to make more choices. My New Year’s resolution is to learn by our students’ side instead of in front of them.
Empower students to think critically
Kelli Whiteside, library media specialist
My New Year’s resolution is to help my elementary students develop the ability to think critically and productively when they are working to complete a task or solve a problem. So often my students want me to give them the answer, the right way, the solution rather than working to find it themselves.
In 2017, I want to encourage them to slow down, read, think, collaborate with their fellow students, and then try something! If their effort does not give them the desired result, I want them to have the willingness and fortitude to modify and then give it another go. In my position I see this skill connecting to work production, research, literature appreciation, computational thinking, and more!
As Miley Cyrus sang, “It’s not about how fast I get there, or about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb!” I want them to accept and possibly even appreciate the climb they face each day as they learn.
Craig Perrier is the high school social studies curriculum and instruction specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Va., and an user of Generation Global.
Robin Glugatch is the librarian and makerspace facilitator at Mountain View Elementary School in the Simi Valley School District, Calif., where she connects with her students through Lightspeed Technologies.
Kelli Whiteside, the library media specialist at Deephaven Elementary School in Deephaven, Minn., encourages critical thinking with content from pivotEd by Capstone.