Teaching is not easy. Are you surprised by that statement? Ask many educators today, and they will probably echo this sentiment. Now, that does not mean that education is not rewarding. It also does not mean that there aren’t moments where we find ourselves in a groove–a time where students are engaged and interested in the lesson. It might seem as the years pass, that you begin repeating the same activities over and over. You begin to look forward more to the next holiday than to instructing students in the ways of arithmetic. Professional development becomes a meeting you attend to get the credit. What happened? You were so excited to become a teacher. As an educator, it is vital that we seek great resources, learn new technology, and maintain that level of enthusiasm towards education so our students will also look forward to learning.
In the article “Redefining the Role of the Teacher: It’s a Multifaceted Profession,” Judith Taak Lanier reminds us that the teacher’s role has evolved into more of a facilitator role. Students struggle to remain focused and learn when in the traditional role of the teacher as a lecturer. The student becomes a passive learner. Lanier writes, “An educator’s most important responsibility is to search out and construct meaningful educational experiences that allow students to solve real-world problems and show they have learned the big ideas, powerful skills, and habits of mind and heart that meet agreed-on educational standards”(https://www.edutopia.org/redefining-role-teacher). Creating activities that allow students to be more involved in their learning is critical. Giving students the opportunity to work with their peers creates an environment similar to what they may see in the future with their careers. Students take a more active role in the learning process when given the freedom to make some of their own decisions with assignments; thus, helping to create an enthusiasm for learning that can become reciprocal for the teacher. Seeing a student excited about learning will only be contagious for the educator.
Today, technology is pretty much a necessity. While some might want to argue this point, students clearly enjoy their technology–mostly for entertainment. As a teacher, being able to educate ourselves on what our students are enjoying and then creating a way to incorporate that into education is a great way to incite enthusiasm into a student’s learning. For example, and this is just something simple, might be to have students create a blog that ties in with a theme the class is currently focusing on such as empathy. Students could first discuss how empathy relates to a character they have been reading about in a novel and post this in the blog. Each student can act as a reporter and write articles from current news stories related to empathy. To personalize it more, students could make their blog posts be specific ways a person can show empathy for another–something a person can put into practice. Students might also be given an assignment where they create a mini-movie exploring the theme of empathy. They could take this pretty far with music, costumes, etc.
By having a project based on something like empathy, students take a real-world topic that is relatable by everyone and use their technology to help positively contribute to society, yet within a classroom assignment. One of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards would be ISTE standard number seven, “Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities (ISTE, 7.a)” (https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches). Choosing to look at a topic in this way can be tied with a novel but can also translate to something a community can benefit from teaches students how even a story read in class is essential in everyday life. Maybe their efforts spark a positive movement; all of this will help bring out enthusiasm from the teacher and the students. It’s becoming more of a facilitator, as Lanier remarks, and putting the learning into the hands of students, which will help revive educators who may have lost the excitement of realizing just how excellent education can truly be.