Sunday, January 18, 2009

Do You Still Enjoy Teaching?

When Christopher Columbus set sail there were certain circles of educated Europeans that knew the world was indeed a sphere not because of personal experience, rather this knowledge was based on their studies and intellect. However, the vast majority of the population believed the contrary.

So, in 1492 when good ole Chris headed west he took with him a worthy crew, his trusty astrolab, ample supplies and those intangibles that I am imagining were more precious than gold itself: courage, passion, faith, and a sense of direction.

What does Courage Mean to You?
As a digital immigrant, traveling through the uncharted waters of the digital landscape does indeed require a certain amount of bravery. When we as teachers step out of our comfort zones we place ourselves at risk, we are exposing our weaknesses and underbellies. We are forced into a position of humility and for a teacher this will ultimately require a shift in thinking.

Do you still teach with a sense of urgency? Do you continue to believe that ALL children can learn? Do you believe that you are making a difference in the lives of children? Do you still enjoy the "job?"

We as teachers have to get comfortable with letting go of control if we are truly going to engage and motivate all students to reach full potential. This is clearly easier said than done and goes against the grain of everything we have ever known about teaching and teachers.

Sense of Direction
What are the essential questions that underpin all the lessons we design? What is the reason for teaching a particular lesson? Please don't say because it's in your curriculum...we need to find the purpose and the direction in all that we do and then lead our students to do the same. I invite the students to ask, "Why do we have to learn this Mr. Howell?" and then help them answer that on their own.

In closing, I wonder how it became common knowledge that the world was indeed a sphere? It certainly took time and mass diligence on the part of many, but ultimately it was through Columbus' continuous efforts that led others to follow suit. I believe that as more and more schools, teachers, and students continue to navigate the uncharted territories and find their own way through the digital landscape that others will do the same. The journey will no doubt be filled with plenty of challenges but we have a worthy crew, we have the needed navigational tools, and we have ample supplies. We now need to call upon those intangibles that will help guide us to the safety of the welcome shore.

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