Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Letting Go

In my role as an Instructional Technology Specialist, I am frequently stopped by teachers and asked how to integrate technology better in the classroom.  My first response to these teachers often stuns them.  Instead of getting all technical and rattling off apps and websites, I inquire about how  they  structure their class.  Do the teachers believe that they are the holders of all information?  That they are where the focus should be in the class?  Or, are the teachers the facilitators of learning by the students?  Are the students allowed the opportunity to discover the learning by doing instead of receiving?
The concept of Letting Go is difficult for many educators because we were trained to be the experts in our classroom, told to be in control of what is happening in our classroom at all times.  After all, if we are to be evaluated by our administrators, shouldn't we make sure that we script each and every minute to ensure our observations run smoothly?  I say this in jest, because I feel there is another way.  It is not an easy way, nor is it neat and tidy.  But it is possible, and achievable by simply shifting your mindset.  When we began our careers, it was because of the children, right?  If that is true, then allow the kids to be your focus, or more specifically, allow what is best for kids to be your focus.

Let's face it, we all know that the world our students are growing up in is vastly different from the one that we knew as children.  These students have the world at their fingertips, literally!  Instead of acting as the gatekeeper of knowledge, empower your students by giving them the freedom to find the information on their own.  Instead of utilizing stand and deliver instruction, allow your students to construct their own knowledge.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not an easy shift to make, nor should it be done all at once.  Instead, focus on one area of instruction.  Beginning with one unit, incorporate the use of guiding questions for your students.  Rather than giving them the information that you want them to learn, utilize specific questions that will guide them to the learning on their own.  Then, after they have learned the information, allow them to become the teacher and present their findings to others.

The presentation piece will provide another opportunity for you to let go.  Instead of deciding how the students share their information, introduce a rubric to the students that details what they need to demonstrate.  Focus on the content of the product, not the product itself.  By using guiding questions and allowing the students the freedom to choose how to best share their content, you are taking the first steps in letting go.

Have you seen this in action in your school?  What are some other ways that teachers can begin to let go?

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