In regards to what I saw and heard, I was simply in an environment of agreement and mutual thought. It was also an environment that fostered growth and intellectual discourse focused on empowering not only each other as pre-service teachers but as learners and students. Through this learned creative strategies and action plans in regards to empowering our future students.
The feelings I had were simply open and expressive in an effort to grow and take in as much as possible from the experience. Sam and I were able to connect our learning from Dr. Mayer’s course “EDUC 160” in regards to Bill Ayers’ concept of “seeing the student” and aspects of critical pedagogy to further explore the concept of empowerment. We discussed the necessary background information to these ideas with Jason and then further reflected on these concepts as a means of empowerment through giving students the power to take full ownership of their understanding and mastery of the material and leading through example by cognitively working to further our own understanding of our content areas. While we will be teachers and we will be authorities to a degree on our content areas, there is always room to improve and it’s crucial that we communicate this to our students. Learning never stops and to fully take advantage of every opportunity in life we must always be learning and engaging with that which surrounds us both physically and intellectually.
To me this means that we are on the right track to not only empowering ourselves and our contemporaries but our students as well. But in order to do this we must always continually be pushing forward in progressive new ways and constantly challenging the world around us in a positive way that enables us to learn in every facet of our daily lives. From what I observed this is ultimately a positive experience that I hope to expand upon throughout my professional life. I highly enjoyed working with both Jason and Sam this semester and I feel I’ve developed life long friendships and professional relationships with them.
This information will be useful to me in the future as I now have action plans developed around empowering students, these plans revolve around taking into account the voice of the students and their expressed needs and wants. Furthermore it also allows for us to full engage with our students by communicating with them in a manner that allows them to not only express themselves but take full ownership of their education as they now have a hand in determining the structure of it. My recommendations would be simply to continually engage with the students and constantly striving to improve ourselves as teachers, intellectuals and people as a whole. Our students will only give us back what we give them and the more we put into their education the more they will be invested and ultimately the more they will get out of it. The best form of professional development is seeing our students for who they are and truly meeting their needs.
In regards to what I did, I was the note taker in both events. While participating and interacting with my group members in a meaningful way; voicing my view point and responding to theirs while continuing to inform mine based on what I gained from their views. All while engaging in the conversation I also took down notes of our main ideas and organized them into a cohesive and presentable manner so that we had them for later employment and reflection. What I read was the text “Teaching the iStudent” and what I heard was the great ideas of my group members that were derived from and based on the text and their own personal interpretations. It was a refreshing and unique experience that allowed for the free flow of ideas, team building and intellectual inquiry in a relaxed yet productive environment.
In interpreting the events that occurred in these meetings I felt frustrated and energized. I was energized to share ideas and learn from my group members but I was frustrated at the technical difficulties we experienced due to our varying wifi strengths. As a result our Google hangout was a struggle because we would become frequently disconnected and our voices would overlap due to a lag in audio transmitting, but it was a learning experience all the same and we all gained something out of it. I remained energized however because it still helped us learn the ins and outs of google hangouts and our meeting face to face allowed us to interact as if we were on the google hang out but without the lag as our set up and agenda protocol remained the same. The google hangout was essentially no different than the face to face meeting but it allowed for us to work collaboratively from our remote locations, in real time. Overall this connects to the real life experience of just meeting in the library as we did, or the middle school and high school days of meeting at friends’ homes to work together on projects after school. My hypothesis is that there is no real difference between a google hang out and a face to face meeting outside of the fact that it allows people to communicate remotely if distance is an issue. From what I observed, my hypothesis seems to be correct. However technical difficulties seem to be a lot harder to overcome versus overcoming distance, making face to face meetings more viable in certain contexts.
This information is useful to me because I now know that google hangouts are a viable professional tool. But before any serious meetings are planned there should be a test meeting to make sure everyone’s connections interact appropriately with one another. My only recommendation would be to conduct that test meeting, if the technology is not cooperative then a face to face meeting may be more appropriate if possible.
In writing this post I used three articles which you can find in the links below;
Before I read these articles I was under the assumption that 21st century education was primarily meant to promote higher learning while teaching foundational skills that were necessary for college and effective critical thinking in the world at large. I also felt that the goal of 21st century education was to promote higher thinking as to create life long learners, who connected what they learned in the classroom with that of their daily lives; combining lived experiences with curriculum learning in an effort to become more informed citizens who could better serve, positively impact and progressively improve themselves, their communities and the world at large.
After reading these articles I now think somewhat differently about 21st century education. I still hold to my ideas of preparing students for postsecondary education and guiding them to connect their learning with the world so that they may make a positive impact, but I now understand that 21st century education is also about developing students who are immersed in the advancements of the world and seeing their benefit. Just a few short years ago when I was in elementary and middle school, computers were just on the cusp of entering their prime but now they have entered it and are tied to every facet of our daily lives. No longer are they some obscure and roughly understood machine but they are an integral part of how we communicate, learn and work. They are essential to how we conduct our lives. Through teaching students appropriate and proper uses of computers we can teach them to collaborate with each other more effectively, to create in a more unique manner and to take hold of their own education and begin to guide themselves in the directions they wish to go and pursue what interests them. Rather than just teaching them to utilize technology for school use, we are to teach our students to use technology in an effective manner that allows them to integrate their daily lives with the learning and to curate the internet in such a fashion that it remains accessible and beneficial to all: for academic and all other purposes. I have also come to realize that 21st century is very much about treating the student as an individual, coming to understand them personally and tailoring lessons to meet students needs. Not everyone learns the same and in the 21st century we need to more fully embrace that. Lastly I’ve come to realize that 21st century while focused on the student and imbuing them with a proper use of technology and guiding them to future success in the classroom and the world in terms of how they learn and connect with each other, it is also about preparing them for life in all regards and that in some areas we are lacking. In the 21st century we must also be preparing our students to enter the workforce/navigate the job market, we should be teaching them how to apply for jobs, manage their finances and some basic survival skills such as how to cook. While an emphasis on technology and advancement is important we must also embrace all facets of life in our schools so that students from any background will come out into the world prepared to succeed in every way possible and help their contemporaries in anyway possible.
All of this being said I still have a few questions;
- How can we better prepare our students for the outside world, in what ways can we help them learn to budget their finances? Should there be a class dedicated specifically to it, or should it be integrated into already existing classes such as mathematics and social studies?
- How can we integrate social responsibility into all classrooms, from sciences to literature? Not just digitally either but in terms of how we treat our environment and each other?
- As we help our students develop into life long learners, how can we help them to be more worldly? Rather than having them follow just one path of knowledge in one particular area, how can we help them to widen their horizons, encouraging them to actively research and pursue multiple areas on interest in an effort to help them be more rounded as individuals?