Today is my first day back at work after a three week break with family, enjoying the sun, the surf and the opportunity to relax in an environment without internet connectivity 😉
But the lack of connectivity hasn't stopped me thinking about the year ahead and the challenges we face as educators to make what we do relevant and meaningful in the lives of the learners in our care.
The quote at the top of this post is often attributed to Albert Einstein, but was first said by Henry Ford (Einstein did say it too, but differently). It's one of those sayings that confronts us with what is so patently obvious.
For many of us we're comfortable doing the things we know in the same way – it provides us with the security we need and reduces the stress of having to confront change. The point of the quote is, however, that if we want to see something different happening in our schools and classrooms, then we have to begin doing things differently. As another of Einstein's famous quotes suggests…
'We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them'
Since coming back 'online' over the weekend I've had a chance to catch up on some of the feeds I subscribe to. Among the are a number of examples of where people are beginning to think differently about what happens in our schools and classrooms. Here are just a few…
- Self directed learning in the digital age – this article by Amy Harrington in WIRED magazine makes the case for a personalised, self-directed approach to learning, enabled by technology. She argues tht it is infinitely more useful to be able to think critically, brainstorm ideas and figure out how to solve problems then it is to be able to recite a list of facts.
- Using blended learning to improve teaching – this useful infographic makes a case for using blended approaches to help teachers stay on top of their game. The writers claim that blended learning environments can create more and better opportunities for teacher collaboration, enable differentiated staffing and boost meaningful professional development opportunities.
- Gamify your classroom – the concept of gamification is gaining currency in educational discourse at present – and I'm a fan. This article by Mike Acedo provides ten specific ideas for game elements are applied in an educational context. Gamification refers to where the structure of (online) gaming is applied to a non-game framework – i.e. the regular classroom environment. Mike's tips are very practical and easily applied.
As we begin the new year of teaching, my challenge is (for myself and the teachers I work with) that we'll actively 'think differently' about what we're doing adn the approaches we are taking, and accept the challenge to explore some of the new ideas that are emerging that can enable us to make learning engaging, relevant and successful for the learners in our care.
Happy New Year to you – let's make it one that releases the creativity and transformational thinking in our profession!