I try to make it a habit to participate in edchats whenever possible for two reasons:
- It helps me to stay ‘plugged in’. Most of the time, I genuinely enjoy the chat. Even if I don’t agree with most of what’s being said, the vibe of it all has a nice energy. Although, I believe there is a negative correlation between the reliability/validity of a tweet and the number of exclamation points contained in the tweet.
- It give me an opportunity to be an advocate for what I believe is a best way of teaching in the high school classroom. Rarely, if ever, am I in a majority with my beliefs. More often than not the chat centers around technology, cultivating relationships in the classroom, or the use of project-based/inquiry-based instruction. While I am certainly in favor of using technology in the classroom when necessary and I do agree that a positive relationship between teacher and student is beneficial, I am quite opposed to project/inquiry based learning. Here’s a great post from The Learning Scientists (@acethattest) providing information and resources that back my beliefs.
Last week, while participating in a chat, the following question was posed: What barriers stop teachers from exercising their beliefs in the classroom? I responded with something like “being in the minority with my opinions and beliefs.” This prompted a lot of people to respond with “stand up for what you think is right” and I even got the “the most dangerous phrase in the language is we’ve always done it this way” image tweeted back at me.
Let me remind you that I’m in the middle of a chat surrounding the use of project-based or inquiry-based learning. These well-meaning teachers assume I am being undermined in my want to apply their style of teaching…but I don’t. I want to do quite the opposite. I want to revolutionize the classroom in a different way…with evidence. Evidence of what works and what improves students’ learning. In my estimation, this requires direct or evidence based instruction and whole classroom instruction. I would like to go back to the future of educating. Basically, I am the first student in 7th grade to discover this awesome old band named U2 that my peers know nothing of. In other words, I think the future of learning and teaching should be centered around some aspects of what has worked in the past.
And before you think I must be some heartless sage on the stage that only cares about my craft and nothing of my students’ well-being, read these past posts:
Cultivating Compassion in the Classroom…and Everywhere Else
11 Life Lessons to End the Term
On My Soapbox
To the Student Sleeping in My Class
Where is education headed? Will we prepare our students for the jobs they’ll have that don’t yet exist? I hope we will, but I also know I cannot accurately predict that future…and no one else can either. I do believe, to make the most impact on our students’ learning which will then greater influence their abilities, evidence-based instruction is necessary.
So, I will continue with the edchats. I will fight what I see to be the good fight. Even if I am in the minority with my beliefs on instruction, it is a worthy cause. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll become popular with the cool kids like Bono.
I appreciate your post. As for standing up for what you believe when you are in the minority, it takes guts if you’re in a Lord of the Flies situation. You might be interested in the experience I had at an Ed Camp: http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/a-math-teachers-day-at-ed-camp/ The comments on the article are somewhat in line with what you’re describing.
Thank you for the comment. I just read through your article and immediately felt like I was in most professional development I encounter today…not too much substance, but you leave feeling great about yourself.
You feel great about yourself if you’re in the majority. The only reason I felt good when I left that ed camp was because 1) it was over and 2) I had enough material to write an article. Which I then did.
100% agree. Kudos to you for writing that article. I really enjoyed it.
Do you know the backfire effect?
I am familiar…now…after a quick google search.
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Keep making great stuff!