Thursday, January 19, 2012

Paradigm Shift Part 2: Point the Way and Get Out of the Way

Yesterday afternoon, our first year teachers gathered for our monthly formation session.  The topic was "The Classroom as Holy Ground" (based on the article by the same name, Kevin O'Brien, SJ, 2003).  The guest speaker, Alan Mensel of our Religion Department, explained his definition of teaching as "point the way and get out of the way."  And I've been reflecting on that phrase all night!

Point the Way:
As educators, the basic job expectation is to impart learning to our students.  We have a few years more experience under our belts, a fancy degree or two and presumably a passion for our discipline.  But education is not about knowledge dump and regurgitation.  Knowledge is created at the intersection of teacher as facilitator and student as participant.  Education is a dynamic process.

Get Out of the Way:
This is what education is about.  It's also what BYOT is about.  It's not about us.  It's about students going their own way and transforming into men and women who will change the world.  We facilitate access to information, resources, tools, experience... and then we need to get out of the way.  Let the students work with, model, create, dialogue, ponder, develop, communicate and experience the dynamic relationships that is learning.

As we move forward with BYOT, the dynamic relationship between technology and the classroom forces me to act as facilitator.  I can point the way with my new BYOT for Edu! magazine, workshops and tech petting zoos.  Then I need to get out of the way.  I learn more from the adults and students in this building as to technology integration than any other source.  Today I learned the power of various e-book annotation tools (MBS, Kindle, iBooks and Stanza).  I have worked with a Nook, iPad, Kindle and two models of laptop and it's not even 1pm.  I just overhear a student in the hall outside my office ask if there was still seating in the library (exact word were "Is it packed?")... and you know what, the library doesn't have any seating open because students are in there... experiencing education!

So point the way... but for heaven's sake then get out of the way and let the students learn!

** Special Note as Timing is Everything....Today, the topic is especially critical as we look at large market developments in how information is delivered to schools.  My concern reading Twitter feeds is education once again being contained into a one-size fits all, pretty, yet presumably easy to use, single platform.  That's not getting out of the way.  Heck, that's not even pointing the way.  That's forcing a single way.

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