It’s often the line I end workshops with. I encourage teachers not to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ and completely revamp their whole classroom practice, but to choose one thing that will make a difference tomorrow for their students (that they’ve learned from the day) and go from there.
BUT, there’s a caveat to that. If your classroom is operating in a way that needs revamping… then you TOTALLY need to start again. Our children’s future relies on them being taught, encouraged, nutured and developed in a way that is completely different from before. Our generation have adapted because we’ve had to but this generation’s need to be agile, collaborative and multi-skilled is crucial.
So, how do you know if your practice needs evolving or a complete revolution. Here’s an idea – a small test. Where is your class on this spectrum? If you’re far to the left, then you need some serious ‘pedagogical redesign.’
One of the reasons I love to watch Rugby (I played it through my school years) is that it’s a game for anyone, no matter what your size or shape. You can be tall and thin, wide and not so thin; there is a position for you on the field.
Some players are called ‘forwards’ who do all the grunt work in getting possession, some are ‘backs’ whose role is to run the ball and find space out wide. Everyone has a role to play and they all rely on each other.
In our company, we have a wide range of strengths and abilities. Some of us have insight and skills in areas that are different from each other but when we play together then we are incredibly strong as a unit.
What I’m learning as I get older is that self-awareness is everything! Knowing what position we are suited for, what skills we have, and equally, what skills we lack, is what makes us strong.
I think the key is to know how much to ‘work on our weaknesses,’ and how much to have others around us cover those areas. There is a point to which we can’t just ignore those weaknesses. One of my strengths is NOT to be organized and prepared down to the fine details but by working on that, hard, it’s something I can do now.
But, my real goal should be to know where I’m strong and build on that strength. What am I good at? How can I contribute in this situation best and help us succeed? That’s real collaboration for me.
One of our most popular regional events is the “STEM and Digital Technologies” workshop we offer. Teachers have a day to explore both the pedagogy of STEM and get hands on with a range of technologies, from Sphero SPRK+, to low tech gear like popsical sticks and ping pong balls! You can see a Twitter moment here which gives you a small window into the action!
This week I’ve been updating some of the material we share on the day and I’ve adjusted this graphic of the ‘STEM Elements’, based on based on the book, “STEM Lesson Essentials, Grades 3-8” by Jo Anne Vasquez, Cary Sneider, Michael Comer.
These elements are a great way to make the important aspects of STEM stand out for teachers and I also encourage them to use these four elements as a planning guide when they’re preparing to engage students in STEM. When we have an empty box it forces us to fill it in! It’s a helpful way to help us engrain this thinking when we are starting out and a good technique to foster new pedagogies into our school culture.
Here are some images from the workshop ran last Wednesday. If you’d like to host a regional STEM event at your school, or have me work exclusively with your staff, contact me here on Twitter or use the contact widget on this page.
There will be a load of teachers in Australia and New Zealand starting to think about planning for the year ahead with a new class and a new group of students. One of the things we are always hoping to do is to inspire and motivate them in those first few weeks.
What better way to do this than to launch them into the world of coding! If you’re after a resource to help you get started, here’s a poster with some clickable links to take you straight to the app or website you’ll need.
There are resources for anyone just starting out, through to more advanced users who are looking to develop their understanding of syntax coding. I’ve also written about this in more depth here, on our website at Using Technology Better. Click the links below to see the online versions and download your own copy if needed using the links at the top of the PDF.