“It’s about helping students to build attitudes and confidence through doing purposeful things that make a difference in the world”
Image taken from Pixaby
The evidence I have seen that “technology used without powerful teaching strategies (and deep learning tasks) does not get us very far” was sadly most apparent in Figure 7, from chapter 4 of A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning.
From this, I concluded that many of the assignments, classroom projects, and assessments do not fall into the higher “knowledge creation” end, but are still a fair amount within the “high-level uses of technology”side. I especially found it interesting that my own pull out courses focused around remedial work and executive functioning skills all primarily fall within the lower third of “information consumption.” I think upon further reflection it would be beneficial to look more towards increasing opportunities within those top technology uses of developing & using simulations or animations and working with others from outside class. Only then we will really be able to accelerate teachers’ abilities to put students more in control of the learning process as well as continue to form the must-have learning partnerships between teachers and students.
With all this in mind, I would also keep the goal of having core components of new pedagogies strategically integrated with technology to really unlock authentic and meaningful deep learning. When these are clearly defined and developed, our students will be able to:
- Discover and mastery new content knowledge
- Collaborate and connect learning
- Low-cost creation and iteration of new knowledge
- Use of new knowledge with authentic audiences for “real” purposes;
- Enhancement of teachers’ ability to put students in control of the learning process, accelerating learner autonomy.
Technology contributes to dialogical learning in my classroom as I am a firm believer in modeling risk-taking and growing critical thinking skills. Ways to do this include:
- Connecting learning to student interests
- Asking good questions
- Using learning structures and teaching strategies that prompt student thinking
All of this impacts student learning because I communicate effectively with my students and constantly look for ways to celebrate their accomplishments and grow their own belief in their capacity to learn. This in turn can help them believe more in themselves. Reflecting on Paulo’s Freire’s 5 ideas for dialogical learning was also very helpful and creating new classroom goals and how to continue to build courage within my students as well as the importance of demonstrating humility, hope, faith, love, and critical thinking by showing them I don’t have all the answers, but we will work together to continually overcome the challenges we are faced with, and most importantly during these “Covid times” we’re in it together.
- Critical Thinking
Teaching with humility means knowing that teaching begins with students, not teachers.
I also really resonated with the fact we must have faith in our students as it can instill a true and profound sense of self-worth and help them to value themselves in all future relationships.
All of this taken into consideration, it will not only improve student learning but improve overall instruction as well.
Image taken from Pixaby
In our classroom, we constantly are using technology for collaboration in terms of teacher feedback and input around progress made on ILP goals and accommodation use. We also look at the strengths and greatly dissect areas of improvement and how to use our strengths to overcome them.
I think when it comes to using technology to really unleash deep learning combined with new pedagogy is still an area of growth and one I am looking forward to continuing to improve on. With the change to almost full digital learning this school year, it has really opened the door and forced educators to relook at lesson plans and rethink them using new pedagogy and how to transform them into deep meaningful learning opportunities.
For students to become independent learners who effectively design and manage the learning process, we as educators really need to help model and demonstrate how to go about doing this. I think many students can easily manage it (something I work on heavily with my diverse group of learners) and others can even go higher with the design component, but it’s the word “effectively” that I think takes a lot of time and explicit feedback to guide them towards accomplishing this. I found the 6 Powerful Strategies For Deeper Learning In Your Classroom (listed below) as another great resource and my ability to focus on how to reflect and improve on the different strategies used within our classes.
- Connect: Create a Community of Learners
- Empower: Activate Students to Lead Their Own Learning
- Contextualize: Use Human Themes
- Reach: Network Beyond School Walls
- Inspire: Personalize The Learning
- Wire: Make Technology the Servant, Not the Master
The best part is- the love for “finding the spark” that I think all educators share when working with students and seeing a subject, idea, or project that really makes a student light up.
Image taken from Pixaby
“Working the hard edges of love” -Brene Brown
In Daring Classrooms, we all know that learning is inherently vulnerable, and therefore without vulnerability, no learning can take place.
I am vulnerable with my students by sharing in their successes and supporting them when things don’t go as expected. I also share stories of my own personal life through my professional and personal goals and how I continually set new challenges for myself and they share in my opportunities and failures, both positive and negative. Building rapport with your students while holding levels of respect between an educator and their pupil is crucial for trust to be established and then deeper learning to take place, with bigger risks also at stake.
I teach my students courage by constantly reminding them that we have a mistake making risk-taking classroom. Providing a safe space for learning where there is no place for humiliation and embarrassment. We develop a courageous classroom by bringing all conversations out to the open and keeping ongoing meaningful communication about our goals and progress alive. Allowing students some choice in the topics they explore and the methods they use, not only keeps them more highly engaged but will allow them to see the greater purpose. The “why” are they doing this.
I work really hard to develop a “shame resilient” classroom, where hopefully, none of the students I work with will ever feel unworthy of love and belonging. Many whom we can’t control their home lives, it is only that much more important than when they walk into our classroom or log into our Webex they instantly feel not only welcome but loved and a real sense of belonging and ownership to what we are accomplishing together. Any shame that happens through secrecy, silence, and judgment is instantly fixed through empathy and ensuring that any student I work with never feels alone. As I would hope shame is not something happening in our classroom as it is devasting and will change how a student views themself as a learner. Sadly, by the time I teach students in Middle School, most if not all have probably already experienced some form of shame or guilt. I strive to be an educator whose students think of them as someone who believed in them and hopefully only added to increase their self-worth.
When completing a VIA character survey, at my old school in the UAE, we spent weeks around these traits, sharing and talking about what everyone brings into the classroom and how to grow in other characteristics that were not listed as main strengths (such as humility for me). Really emphasizing that even if something was not listed as a strength, it is still something that can be developed- not only within myself but in my students as well.
My strengths as reported from the character survey:
Having bravery as my first listed strength I think matches well with my use of humor and zest for life when working with students who some deem “more challenging” especially when back in the USA and primarily working with those with Emotional Behavioral Disorders along with creating that courageous classroom. Recognizing learners as equals so true learning can take place can be very challenging at times when the opportunities aren’t always met with a 50-50 mindset, many times it’s a 90%-10% split with the student expecting more from you and them giving very little if not any buy into their education. I must continually change up the strategies to what is needed so any form of learning can take place.
Reminding myself that when you are brave enough often enough you WILL fall at some point and that having resiliency is important. The 4 main skills sets being:
- Clarity of Values
- Rising Skills (resiliency)
All of these are opportunities I provide my students with through the ongoing communication and “real talk” we have constantly around their goals and progress. And when students apologize for something, like coming late to class, we change the focus from it’s not THEM being disrespectful because they are inherently disrespectful or whatever it may be, but with the mindset that it is only behavior and one of which they have control over and with time and set intentions- can change. Especially now with digital learning, to “lean into the joy” of being vulnerable, and showing gratitude and ways to always remind us to be grateful and appreciative for what we have is more important than ever.
When my students deeply grasp the meaning of Self-Advocacy, I know they are truly ready for whatever comes next, beyond the 8th grade and highschool. Incorporating school with home and the world, I know whatever life challenges they face they will be able to advocate and get what they need in order to achieve success.