Do you agree that schools ought to prepare learners to succeed in the world as it is even if that may not be the world as it should be?    Should all students be prepared to use the standard dialect, wear the standard clothes, and adopt the standard behavior patterns when interviewing for jobs– (even baby or house-sitting,) crafting the admissions essay, or interacting socially with the community?   How important is fluency in the normative, even if that means learning a foreign language and a wearing a mask?    What are the implications of your stance on this issue?    Notice and name some positive and negative aspects.

I believe that there is not one direct answer for this prompt. Depending on the day, my answer will waiver. There are times when I, as an educator, feel that conformity is best. It makes teaching easier. However, I am discovering that it is not reality. Teachers have a hard time changing their “standard” behaviors. I do believe that there is an “accepted” code of conduct for teachers. Whether we sign on for this or not, it is part of our professional responsibilities. There is a list of what we should do while performing our contracted hours of service, and there are expectations when we live out the rest of our day. Whether we want to believe it or not, the discriminatory elements of our job do not work in our favor as the “regular joe” citizen. I have a long-time friend who is an educator. He was arrested for a DUI. His picture was plastered on the 10 o’clock news. His character was under scrutiny. Colleagues were whispering about him and his “actions.” Did this madden me? Of course it did. I knew exactly what this man was made of – integrity, ambition, community. When discussing Bill Clinton and his activities, I did not believe they interfered with his ability to lead the country. The issue was the lying about what he had done. That is the “disappointing” behavior. As with my friend, he apologized for what he had done, and owned up to his consequences. I believe he has been able to move on without many repercussions,  professionally.

I continue to waver between standard behavior and independence. I can confidently say that students thrive on being given the opportunity to be creative, with guidelines. The guidelines are the educator’s assurance that we have what we need to show growth and effective teachers. That whole debate can go on in another post. When you are keeping to the script, what gets lost? Do students become less creative, less engaged, less challenged with rules and standards? There needs to be a balance. However, I am not sure that having a balance is the answer. Maybe I am not progressive enough to stand out on the ledge and jump. There are excellent educators that are born leaders and risk-takers. Those who buck the system and pave their own paths. How are those professionals deemed in the eyes of society? Are they excentric? Are they crazy? Or are they just what our students need?

The implications are numerous. At least, in my heart that is what I believe. I can not take a side though. I guess I am too afraid to be that trail-blazing teacher. I am most comfortable working with guidelines. I will never talk back to a superior. Instead, I chose to challenge and discuss my side and then question why it should be different. That is how I run my classroom. There are guidelines, however, I’m not opposed to questioning the authority (respectfully) and trying something different. My daughter is the same age as my students. I am blessed right now to have her insight and the experience to not make a fool out of myself with her peers. I try my best to be current and relevant in the eyes of today’s youth. If I fall from this, I might as well stop teaching.

Two quotes are sticking with my from the readings with Turkle. “In solitude we don’t reject the world but have the space to think our own thoughts.” (202) To me, this quote speaks volumes about how connected we are. I try to balance what we do in the classroom and life. I do believe that using technology to be connected with the students is important. I also believe that having foundational skills is essential to being successful technology users. Discourse among classmates is essential. Again, finding a balance seems to be the answer. “We fill our days with on-going connection, denying ourselves time to think and dream.”  (Turkle, 202) If we allow ourselves to have a healthy dose of both , then it is possible we can think and dream, and be a part of a balanced society.

As you have explored and worked with content creation tools (or other technology)  what assumptions and biases have you noticed?  What is built into the templates?    Are the online tutorials beginner user friendly or do they assume that all audience members know what is meant by click and drag, menu bar, open, privacy settings, post, etc. etc.    Can you make a list of words that have specialized meanings in the world of now, that they would not have had 30 years ago?   How does command of this vocabulary privilege some and cause others not to belong?    

The choices of words that have new meanings are ever evolving, just like new literacies. Knowing the new meanings of this vocabulary is imperative in our line of work. We are educating minds, who in turn, our educating us. I do think that there is an element to learning from everyone around you. As teachers, we need to be aware of the terminology that students are using. First of all, we don’t want to be insulted by our students, so knowing what they are speaking about is key. Passing time in the hallway is loaded with vulgarity, innuendo and sharp exchanges. There may be times when teachers are thankful that they have no clue what the students just said. However, when we are speaking of instructional practices and what teachers need to understand, that changes many things. Our knowledge base needs to be honed in on what students are doing in today’s society. This will make our lessons relevant and meaningful to students. Engagement is a word that is involved in discourse in our professional setting. It is quickly becoming part of the students’ vocabulary. When addressing behavior management, administrators are looking to see if lessons are “engaging” for students. How will teachers know what is engaging if they do not have a handle on timely interests and hot topics?

I do firmly believe that teachers are at an advantage with having knowledge of ever-changing literacies. The overwhelming feeling some veteran teachers must face when discussing skills such as tagging, linking, in the cloud, sharing, pushing… it is enough to cause some great anxiety. In my position, I help teachers integrating technology into their daily lives. Whether it is how to utilize progress monitoring software, creating templates for curriculum development or embedding Animoto videos into presentations, teachers have the desire to learn.

When using different applications, it can be enraging to try to “master” all of them. One of the challenges of the first two classes we had was sampling all of the mediums to which we were posting and searching for information. We have been lucky to have the guidance of experienced instructors, and guided toward what is effective and what works well. This class has allowed participants to use mediums of choice. It is interesting to see how many people are branching out, and how many are using the technology that is comfortable, or easy to use. Teachers are most definitely as a disadvantage when trying to use so many different types of software or interfaces. When I am working with staff and administration, I always recommend getting comfortable with one type of application. There are so many choices out there for blogging, video creation or presentations. Finding one application that suits your needs, and really understanding it, is more effective for instructional practices than learning a little about multiple ones.

I tried my hand at GoAnimate. I like to experiment with different ways students can share their creativity and learning. I believe it is the “engagement” piece that I am looking to build into my “bag o’ tricks.” When I share my limited knowledge on what applications are out there to help students synthesize what they are learning, I like to make sure it makes sense. I do not want to use technology, just to use it. I want to make sure that the use of these tools help deepen the students’/teachers’ understanding of the content. I am sharing a quick GoAnimate video I created. This is to only say that I have the experience of interfacing with the technology, and I wanted a quick sampling of what was read. I did choose voice/race of the characters to reflect what I see in the classrooms today. The district in which I work has a diverse population. I have not worked outside of this district (other than presenting to adults and some undergrad observation requirements), so my knowledge base is limited.

Please click here to watch my 25 second clip.

There is absolutely a disadvantage to not knowing the “lingo” or having good “googling” skills. The job of an educator will continue to challenge and change us. Whether old or new, the demands are overwhelming. Keeping abreast of all of the technology is one aspect of what it takes to be an effective and successful teacher in today’s society.

Chosen Medium

I chose to use Google Docs for my primary medium this week. The ease of sharing the file allows for commentary between the creator and the instructor. I also am comfortable with this format. I did branch out and learn GoAnimate for part of my reflection. This has a two-fold explanation. One reason was to learn a new application, and the other was to embed different technology into my response. I sometimes feel as if we are so overwhelmed with our daily lives, that we lean on what is familiar and safe. I included an image using wordle.net that shared the “new” meanings of words in a different format. It’s a Web 2.0 tool that I am familiar with, therefore, it was not difficult to navigate. It does give an added interest to the assignment.

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