Years ago, interviewing for a grade 2 position at my school, I asked the candidate, “How would they integrate technology with grade 2 students?” Their response was along the lines of, “I don’t think students should be using technology in grade 2.” When I asked her why, she said things like “it takes too much time for kids to login”, or “kids shouldn’t be on computers at that age.” (PS…She should have googled me before the interview.)
When I asked her what grade level kids should start using technology, her answer was “grade 3”. So either all of these things that they couldn’t do in grade 2, they would magically be able to do in grade 3, OR, this was not their problem. In this situation, my guess is the latter.
Yet this is not unique. I talk to many high school teachers trying to have students learn in different and more compelling ways, shifting away from a traditional classroom. Many of those students struggle with it because they just want the rubrics or marking scheme so they can get their grade and move on. School has become a “checklist” to many of our students. I will do what you say, and then you allow me to go to the next level.
Let’s understand something…Kids never walked into schools wanting grades. Feedback, yes. Grades, not a chance. We conditioned them to that.
This is why I have been really re-emphasizing the notion of the “school teacher vs. classroom teacher” lately. The kids in the school are all of our kids; not just the ones we teach this year. Yet the ones that we teach this year, we are conditioning them and teaching them some things that could be easy for us now, but harder for others later. What matters is not whether things are easier or not, as much as will it lead to something better? When we condition kids at a young age to get a reward for learning, they become accustomed to this, but the sticker they got in grade 1, is not going to cut it in grade 9. Do we create experiences where kids see the learning as the benefit, or learning as something they need to be externally rewarded for?
In my book, “The Innovator’s Mindset”, I wrote, “Isolation is now a choice educators make.” This is no longer acceptable.
We need to not only work together, but we need to understand that we all serve these kids and there is often a bigger picture than we can see beyond our time with any group. We have to look at education as a continuous journey, not in one year (or semester) chunks. What we do now, will make an impact later. What impact do we want to have on our students? What impact, in turn, will they have on us?