A few weeks ago, we held a technology conference for teachers and administrators within Thames Valley. For the first time in the conference’s history, we decided to dedicate an entire morning to providing administrators with workshops on a variety of technologies from which they could choose. We offered sessions on Twitter, Facebook, School Websites, Video-Streaming and Notebook Software to name just a few. It was so encouraging to see such a number of principals and vice-principals spend a Saturday morning networking and learning together. The dialogue was rich, the laughs were many and the learning curve for many of us was an entertaining journey. I walked away from those sessions determined that we need more of them. As with any group of learners, time to spend with a new technology, tool, resource is important but just as important is the opportunity to dialogue with others about what we were learning; to share our commonalities and to learn from others about different applications of technologies.
Shouldn’t we be providing our students with the same opportunity? Do we truly value student voice and conversations in our learning environments? Gone are the days when classrooms should be silent with students, independently completing worksheet after worksheet to demonstrate their learning. If we want our students to be engaged in what they are learning, they need to be able to talk about it, demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways and have choice in their activities. One of the things that I do as I visit classrooms is that I take notice of who is doing the talking. Yes, there are still times for direct instruction by the teacher, but the teacher’s voice should not dominate the majority of the airtime. Have our students been taught how to challenge each other’s thinking? Try and prove a point to a friend; nothing shows your strong understanding of a topic or an opinion, than having to defend it to someone else.
Have our students been provided with opportunities to choose activities which they are curious about learning? Choice doesn’t mean answering every other question. Choice means allowing students to dig deeper into topics that are of an interest to them, reading material that interest them.
Providing choice and creating the conditions for conversation are challenging. But, our students deserve educators who embrace those challenges!
How do you provide choice for the learners in your classroom?
Come write with me…….