Although I’ve been teaching my classes differently for the past couple weeks, today was the first day we spent using technology. In CE 10 we began researching the LRA and different ways our class might be able to help those affected in Uganda & Sudan. In English 20, we’re starting The Secret Life of Bees, so we’re beginning with researching the Civil Rights movement, since all we were able to establish during a pre-assessment is that Martin Luther King Jr. & Rosa Parks were likely involved, and they think it may have taken place during 1965, although the dates offered ranged from 1864 – the mid 1920’s, likely because it was confused, by some, with the Civil War.
I spoke with them about the importance of using credible sources, and we brainstormed as to how we might know a source is credible. We talked about the respectability of Wikipedia as a starting point. My students are always shocked that I allow Wikipedia, since in most classes they have been banned from using it as a source. I’ve noticed that very quickly in this journey I have become the technology liberal at my school. I also taught them how & why one would social bookmark with Delicious.
With their new Delicious accounts a click away, I released them to learn on their own. They spent the rest of the class beginning their research. And, to be honest, I felt utter disappointment. This I was not prepared for. I thought teaching my students research & using technology would be exciting. Instead, I felt loss. What now is my role?
Normally, in beginning a unit on Civil Rights, I would be the Civil Rights expert, and would have spent several days lecturing and telling stories of the great heroes of the movement. We would have spent time talking, discussing the issues, and laughing. I would be connected with my class. But today, I was not.
Today, instead of teaching them information, I was teaching them how to learn. And yet, I’m not sure what my new role in this is. I’m not sure how to connect to my students and their learning process while doing this. I’m not sure how to laugh and enjoy them. And I was not expecting the profound sense of loss and the pain accompanying it.
With one of my classes, the process feels inefficient. It would be much quicker to do it on my own and present them with a few well-researched options, as I have done in the past. I realize this is why I have done it this way. But it wouldn’t teach them what they need to know. With some of the less mature students, at times, I felt like I was babysitting. A feeling I am not used to and strongly dislike.
My stronger students will likely pick some of this up in university, anyway; my weaker ones, likely not; but I wonder, will they learn and use it? And yet, I also wonder what is the alternative? To continue to pour into them information they will forget after the exam? Can I really convince myself that this is why I decided to become a teacher? Or do I painstakingly take the time to teach them the skills required to become lifelong learners in a hyper-connected world?
The answer, when phrased this way, is simple; the journey to get there is not. Somehow, during the coming weeks, in addition to figuring out how to create class blogs and learning how to create a portal, I have to figure out my new role as co-learner. I realize that this process must be worth it because, otherwise, so many great teachers would not advocate it.
Originally, this post was titled The Adventure Begins…but with that title I had nothing to write. Nothing authentic. Nothing truthful. So I deleted it. Once changed to Loss, the words & the tears began to flow– And this much more accurately depicts where I am tonight.