Learning: So This Is How It Feels
I'm only five days into teaching Media Collage, a brand new class offering at Glenbrook South HS. On the fourth day, I dropped the following message into the class's shared Google Drive folder:
While we are only 4 days into this brand new course, I wanted to say a few words about why we have been doing the things we are doing. As the teacher, I realize I am probably thinking about this class a lot more than most of you. But it is likely that you have asked yourself “what exactly are we doing in here” over the past few days. My intention is to establish a few things early on:
A sense that we are working together and that we need to share what we know, particularly about digital technology and tools.
A basic knowledge of some tools that we can then use throughout the quarter (and, hopefully, beyond). In essence, to figure out the possibilities that digital tools offer us.
A sense for what it is that people are interested in.
In order to achieve these 3 goals, I am asking you to complete a number of activities over the first 2-3 weeks of class. In some ways, it might feel like a normal English class. For example, completing the “Something I Learned” survey probably felt like other short essays you have written. But my intention is that we get to a point where you can take an active role in your learning--where you can decide what it is you want to think about and do and know how to employ digital tools to engage meaningfully in this passion. As I write this, it seems like a pretty daunting task. But I am excited by it and I hope you are too.
Finally, as I have told you already, this is my first attempt at “teaching” this course. As such, I am actually much more of a learner. This is incredibly energizing. But also pretty nerve-wracking. If you have suggestions for activities or questions about our approach, please let me know. I need your help to make this class something special, which I know it can be.
It has been a challenging first week--one that has me stretching in completely new ways. I was not lying or trying to create a bond with my students by writing that I am a "learner." It is simply the position from which I am now working.
We educators enjoy talking about "life-long learning" and how this draws us to the profession. This well-worn phrase is as ubiquitous as standardized tests. Check out any site for any school in the country and there is a good chance that some version of this goal will be included in its mission statement or philosophy. I know I have used it in one form or another in conversations with other educators and with people outside of education. I do not mean to suggest that my use, or anybody's use, is hollow or insincere. It's just that now I feel it. Teaching students how to be a 21st century learner means being a learner right along with them.