Straddling the fence.

I haven’t caught up with recent etmooc sessions, but I have tried to read some of the posts, and reading David Wees’ post Two competing visions of the future of education was particularly timely for me. It clearly articulated two schools of thought.  Personally, however, I find myself with a foot in each one. This week in particular I have found myself torn between the two, questioning where I should be.

In my junior classes, this year just Yr 7 Maths, I am firmly in the first camp. This week the students uploaded their keynotes and iMovies onto Edmodo, and time was spent for students who had successfully done so to teach those who were still struggling with the new technology -many have only had their iPads for 2 weeks and have never been part of an Edmodo or similar community. I intentionally stepped back to encourage the students to see each other as teachers, not just me. I was really impressed with the way students shared their knowledge, and 2 students posted excellent instructions on the Edmodo page for others to follow. The kids were also asked to view and comment on the work of at least three other students. Again, I tried to keep my comments minimal and it was great to see that students were able to point out errors in another presentation in a polite and supportive way. During the week some students were working in groups matching cards to find complementary and supplementary angles. On Friday, I introduced them to the Kidblog that I have set up for them and the last 10 minutes of the lesson was spent uploading avatars and choosing backgrounds. Next week the students will be creating  Educreations presentations.

For my senior students, set curricula and external exams means that I feel safest standing in the other camp. I am driven to ‘get through’ the required content. It’s not really how I want it to be but I struggle to know how to change it. I want my students to get the scores they need to get into the courses they are aiming for.

But here’s the dilemma: My Yr 7 class is 2 weeks behind the content covered by another teacher. On Demand tests are coming up and Naplan in May. My timetable means I share  rooms with teachers from the straight rows & content (preferably no computers at all, they are a distraction) camp, so every lesson means a rearrangement of tables so that students can work cooperatively in groups.  Not all the kids have managed to upload their presentations and a couple are still having issues accessing the internet at school. I believe in how I run these classes, but with the majority of staff in the other camp it’s sometimes hard not to wonder if maybe they’re right and maybe I’m wrong. It’s only week 4, but I’m feeling a little discouraged and worn down that more of my colleagues aren’t moving camps, for the juniors anyway, at least some of the time. So, here’s the other reason that David’s post was timely. A reminder that, while there may be a relatively small band of us at school, I can find the support and inspiration that I need from the connections that I have made through etmooc and twitter. A reminder that change can take a while and that I need patience. A reminder that all my colleagues are dedicated educators doing what they believe is best.