Change in education sometimes take time—months or even years. However, this is not true in the area of computer coding in the classroom. Coding has become an ever-evolving curriculum for students in K-12 education. New products, opportunities, and curriculum options seem to come online every day, making it hard to keep up with what is most current and popular in classrooms.
As a K-12 educator, you may think that the term “MOOC” is made up at first—it sounds like a nonsense word from a first grade phonics test! But in higher education, MOOCs have become pervasive and have altered how education is delivered across the globe.
The acronym MOOC stands for massive open online course. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, topics, and disciplines. The concept is fairly simple: higher-level courses that are available for free to anyone who wants to take them. Most of the time some college credit is available, at a cost, if the student is in need of that.
Decades ago, the Beach Boys sang “Be True to Your School.” The song encouraged students to stay loyal to their high school, more so even than “their girl or their guy.” Quite a statement!
There is nostalgia to the song, but in the end, we hope that the students who pass through our halls will have the same loyalty the Beach Boys encouraged. The one word that encapsulates this is connectedness. We hope all of our kids are connected to their school, their teachers, and one another.
Teaching is a wonderful profession. I would even call it the best profession. It is full of challenges and “warts” like any other field, but there is really nothing like it. Regardless of whether we are teaching five-year-old students or fifty-year-old professionals, teaching starts with a lack of knowledge or skill and ends with something gained by the individual that cannot be taken away. Education opens doors, increases opportunity, and makes all of us better, more well-rounded human beings.
It is true that not every day in the classroom feels like this. Paperwork, meetings, and state mandates all distract us from the bottom line of kids learning and growing. In recent decades, the quantity of “other things” that teachers have to worry about and do has greatly increased.
The start of the school year is the perfect time to set the tone and culture of a school and classroom. It's a time for fresh starts and stepping out on the right foot. As we welcome new students into our classrooms for the first time, the “culture” of the room starts to be built.
As a member of a school community, it is time to consider the kind of culture you want to create in your classroom. This could be a classroom culture or building culture. How do you want it to “feel” when students enter the classroom? What types of interactions do you want them to have, and what will the climate and culture of the classroom be?
We know that teachers learn best, and are most motivated, when learning about a topic that is of high interest to them. Some trainings are required for all teachers and there isn’t any way around that, but much of what we do with professional learning tends to be “one size fits all” with little choice provided.
With the current trends of makerspaces and technology-rich classrooms being so popular, many teachers are looking to further engage students with 3D printers. This technology is cool and innovative, but teachers may have questions about how it will actually work in the classroom.
Archery is a unique and popular sport in our school district. We have high numbers of students who participate in archery every year at both the state and national level. Archery has a lot of similarities to professional learning communities (PLCs)—stick with me and I think you will see the connection.
There is a clear target that we are aiming for. We have tools in our hands that can help us to hit the target. Some tools are better than others, but a gifted artisan can do a great deal with any tools they handle. Small adjustments at the start of the process yield major impacts (both good and bad) when the target is reached (or missed). What that means is a tiny adjustment to an arrow or bow when shooting causes a big change in the outcome. Getting the arrow started in the right direction makes a huge difference in the success of the shot.
This article could be very short. What makes teachers effective? One simple, truthful answer: Teachers believing that they can be effective.
It isn’t that easy—is it? In some ways, it is. A teacher’s belief in their own efficacy is the starting point for many things that follow: high expectations, connecting with all students, working hard, and collaborating as a professional. If we don’t believe that our work will actually make an impact, then many of these are a waste of time.
Topics: tips for teachers
Creating a makerspace in a school or classroom is a great idea for many reasons. In a well-run makerspace, engagement is high, critical thinking is taking place, and collaborative problem solving is occurring among students. What’s not to like?
But the prospect of getting a makerspace off the ground can be overwhelming. We are in the process of launching one in our school next year and have learned a few things along the way.