“Imagine we were asked to learn in our parents classrooms… ”
I read this quote recently and it made me think a lot about how much has changed not only in the last 50 years, but also in the last 5 years. I keep coming back to the year 2007 as being this great year of transformation for society and education. The introduction of the iPhone which led to the ubiquitous use of smart phones throughout our society changed the way we communicate, ingest information and learn. The smart phone turned everyone into a bit of a technology expert, breaking down some of the barriers and fear that many teachers had in the past. So I have been thinking a lot about what this means and what we need to do. What are some of the keys to a successful 21st Century classroom?
Understanding your role and purpose in a classroom.
In doing a quick scan of the internet, here are some of the names that pop up when you type in the greatest teachers in history: Herodotus, Aristotle, Confucius, Socrates, Jesus, Buddha, Pythagorus, Helen Keller, Mother Teresa, Jaime Escalante among others. The thing about great teachers is that they all bring something different to the table. Some are really tough, some are gentle, some are understanding, innovative, demanding, nurturing, energetic, student centred, teacher centred and many are a mix of all these things. It seems like the most important common quality is a deep passion for teaching and learning. Having the ability to either ignite the passion within students or dragging them there kicking and screaming. Looking at 14 Things Great Teachers do Differently, you see a few common strands. Teachers are the decisive element that make a classroom what it is, we need to have high expectations for everyone in the room (ourselves more than anyone), and more than anything we need to have purpose. These qualities are absolutely critical, but in many ways they are hard to touch.