Wow, there just are no words. It’s cliche but that first class went by in a flash! Please enjoy my summary of learning. I keep trying to push myself outside of my comfort zones; from podcasts to videos…and now this. Slam poetry! Yes, you read that right, slam poetry…or my attempt at it.
None of this learning would have been possible without you all; so thank you for joining me on this snippet of my journey. Best wishes on your own path.
Until we meet again…
And traversing the online teaching frontier… (Debates 7&8)
What happens when you have to debate as the opposition on a topic you wholeheartedly support? Short answer: It gets very messy inside your mind very quickly! When I volunteered to switch my stance for this debate and play “devil’s advocate,” I was almost exclusively thinking of one of my favourite books, Think Again, by Adam Grant.
In his book, Grant outlines how to develop the habit of thinking again: think like a scientist, define your identity in terms of values not opinions, and (of most importance here) seek out information that goes against your views. Make no mistake, despite how I debated Monday night, I am firmly in support of teachers and schools having a role in the development of children’s digital footprints. Of course, I wanted to see if I could convince myself of the opposite viewpoint…even just a little.
As always, let’s turn to the facts before I jump in with my final reflections (revealed in the video below…)
Debate 7 Final Reflection and Leftover Questions
In the end, I cannot dispute that teachers and schools play a role in helping students develop their digital footprints (you got me there, Rae and Funmi!). As educators, we act as guides for our students navigating a physical and now digital world. After playing devil’s advocate, the one caveat I can make in this case is that the development of student digital identities does not START with teachers and cannot END with them either. The responsibility is shared. We owe it to our children to hold parents, teachers/schools/divisions, governments, and online platforms accountable for creating safe online spaces for our children to explore their digital identities.
- As an educator (or similar), do you feel adequately supported by parents, your school/division, and professional resources/development when teaching students about digital citizenship and footprints?
- If you have received excellent resources and/or PD on this topic (to use with students), please share in the comments, including how it guided your classroom lessons and use of tech.
- How often do you check the terms of service agreement before signing off on something? Tell me I’m not the only one signing my life away
“I can’t but we can.”-Anon.
Traversing the online teaching frontier…I think I got lost in Timbuktu – Debate 8
I was still reeling from my own debate (I really dislike pushing a one-sided viewpoint. Objectivity. ALL. THE. WAY!), but the subsequent online learning debate delivered a double-whammy to my solar plexus! I’ve been teaching online for almost 3 years now. To suggest it’s been detrimental to the social and academic development of the children I’ve worked with feels like a personal attack. It’s not, of course. Once more, I turn to the facts before I will jump in with my reflection…littered with 3 years of positive and negative experiences.
Debate 8 Final Reflections and Leftover Questions
After reading all the articles and listening to the debators and my classmates discuss this topic, I keep coming back to my own experiences over the last few years. I have the unique vantage point of having taught in the rushed, uncharted dynamic of the pandemic and then in a more developed, purposeful role as an OLST (online learning support services teacher). Teaching students from every school in every grade in my division is not for nothing. The highs and lows of online learning have changed me as an educator; changed my definitions of schools, classrooms, and teaching. To say that online learning is detrimental to students generalizes the concepts of physical schools and education as one-size-fits-all definitions. That is certainly not the case. When done properly, and by that, I mean MINDFULLY, online education can become a digital anchor for many families needing something different. Physical schools will always be needed, but online education is the perfect alternative.
- If you’re so inclined, please tell me about your own teaching experiences during the pandemic. Mine was oddly positive, but I know experiences vary greatly!
- How do you think pandemic teaching and current online teaching differ? Or do you think they do?
- What would you say to a family considering online? What factors should be taken into consideration?
- How do you feel about your own online education? Does it seem like a viable option as opposed to being on-campus? What works for you and what doesn’t?
Thank you for joining this learning journey. One master’s class down…many more to go! Best wishes to you all!
This week it was time for Sushmeet and me to debate! We spent almost two weeks preparing for the debate, but lots of our classmates wrote diverse arguments for both sides with perspectives that surpassed my limited lens and subjectivity. So, lets get started!
Debate 3: Schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology (e.g., cursive writing, multiplication tables, spelling).
Pre-debate I felt that many of these skills will be replaced by technology in classrooms. To me, it makes sense that our language code develops as time progresses. As words and phrases are added to our dictionaries, the code increases to reflect cultural changes and spread of language codes. Sometimes it seems as if language is regressing back into visual images like emoticons, gifs, and memes. This translates into many areas of the curriculum like multiplication facts (calculators), spelling (spell check), cursive writing (fonts), and even graphing (exporting to charts, graphs, and tables). Now let’s get into support for both sides.
- If we want a more equitable educational program we must reimagine our education system to make space for social justice practices, by removing unnecessary skills for today’s society there is more room for higher level thinking, 21st century skills,
“the whole education process can be reformed and restructured, including the main drivers and principles for reinventing schools in the global knowledge economy, models for designing smart learning environments at the institutional level, a new pedagogy and related curriculums for the 21st century, the transition to digital and situated learning resources, open educational resources and MOOCs, new approaches to cognition and neuroscience as well as the disruption of education sectors” (p. v, Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology)
- More personalized programming through implementation of technology.
Future education will fully consider the personality and development of each student. With the effective and wise use of AI technology we can surpass the personalized and small-scale education of the agricultural society, we can surpass the non-personalized and large-scale education of the industrialized society, and we can then establish a personalized but large-scaled educational system (p., v Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology)
- Faster formative feedback to guide the learner and more time for teachers to give learners quality feedback from higher-level thinking tasks.
Knowledge and skills delivery will be dramatically supplemented by artificial intelligence while other aspects of educating and cultivating become more and more important. New technology will save teachers’ time and help them care more for the students’ soul, spirit, and happiness since there would be time for them to have further communication with students, to inspire students for more motivation and interest to do more creative and innovative learning. Future education will enter the era of co-working between teachers and artificial intelligence. (p. vi, Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology)
Now I have to say that I agree with most of what we argued, but I do believe that some of these basic skills are foundational to higher level, complex problem-solving.
- Spelling affects marketing and quality of work. Without it we lose our language code.
“That advice reflected a societal approbation of the ability to spell—which at the time could be defined as the capacity to write words that conform to the orthography of a given language—that had been pervasive since at least the 16th century and grew in importance with the rise of the printing press and printed books” (Spelling, (2021), Pan, S.C., Rickard, T.C. & Bjork, R.A.)
- Cursive writing is linked to motor skills, memory, comprehension, and other improved brain functions.
“there’s plenty of evidence of cognitive and academic benefits. Brain scans reveal neural circuitry lighting up when young children first print letters and then read them. The same effect is not apparent when the letters are typed or traced” (Cursive Writing: Berger, T. (2017, March 10))
- Students cannot complete higher-level problem solving in mathematics without basic skills.
“students do not know their fractions, cannot do long division or basic subtraction and borrowing operations. The bottom line: “Students don’t have the skills at hand to engage in problem-solving and higher-level math.” (Mental Math and Computation Skills: Bennett, P. (2021, June 6))
I agree that some of these skills are valuable, but also that technology has an increasing role in our daily skills. Overall, technology isn’t quite ready to overthrow these skills.
Debate 4: Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice
Whew, we had two heated debate topics this week! Let’s get into the team’s arguments.
- Teachers shouldn’t be neutral about social justice issues and we have a responsibility to use our privilege to speak up against discrimination.
“for us to say our role is to be neutral is to operate from a place of privilege. Not privilege as in wealth — that’s just one of many types of privilege, and one that most educators don’t have. Our place of privilege is choosing not to pay attention to these stories or take a position on them because we are not personally impacted” (Angela Watson’s Truth For Teachers: Some Things a Teacher Shouldn’t be Neutral About (September 1, 2019))
- Social media can increase student voice can make a difference in communities. Our classrooms can be sites of activism.
What I learned from this assessment is that young people are ready, willing, and able to engage in difficult conversations. They are interested in fighting for their lives, our lives, and their nation. They are leaders—even the quiet ones.
“There is power in student voice, and it isn’t a voice any teacher can give. We don’t give voices. We make space for them in our curricula and classrooms, or we don’t” (Using Social Justice to Promote Student Voice: Lorena Germán (2020))
- There are more effective ways that students can engage in social justice.
“Without offline action, gestures like using a hashtag or posting a black square come across as performative, opportunistic, and lazy. Critics are often quick to call out these minimal efforts as “slacktivism.”” (Genuine Social Media Activism: A Guide for Going Beyond the Hashtag)
- If teachers engage in social activism, there is a possibility of professional repercussions and possibility of influencing students beliefs and opinions.
“They want to preserve their objectivity in front of their students. They don’t want to hurt their relationships with parents, students, or colleagues who might have different beliefs than they do. They worry about professional repercussions, especially when posting from an account that they use for work-related reasons” (Teachers, Politics, and Social Media: A Volatile Mix)
Overall, I believe teachers should be able to engage if they choose to. There are some who wish to engage in social justice, and some who do not. For me, I will choose to use my privilege to be an ally. If there were to be repercussions I am privileged to be able to either use a lawyer to speak more, or find other employment in time. This isn’t a choice everyone has, so they should also have a choice in engaging in social justice.
If you made it this far, great job!