Monday, August 19, 2013

What I realized about 1:1

I'll admit that when our administration asked the faculty if we were ready to go 1:1 in 2011, we weren't ready. I had a vote, albeit a small one in the landscape of the larger community, and I opted for a full year of planning and a slow roll out before taking the 1:1 plunge. As luck would have it, the district thought differently, and decided in October of 2011 to go fully 1:1 in August of 2012.

As I reflect back on the past year, I realized that Leyden made the right call and that our students are already seeing the benefits of the world at their fingertips.

Some schools will begin their tech journey out of obligation to keep up with the others. Some schools will dive into 1:1 because of the pressure from their community. Some may even find a research based study that proves the effectiveness of this 21st century initiative. But until these institutions fully commit, there are so many underlying advantages that 1:1 creates that will go unnoticed. Among these are:

1. Our students are better at communicating with us. 

Despite what some may say about "Generation Y," our students are becoming better communicators because of technology. They may not have all of the conversational skills that our parents emphasized as we were growing up, but that doesn't mean that our kids cannot communicate. Their interaction with their teachers is as strong as ever. Students can email, tweet, text, post, blog, and create their own means of communication. My classroom may be empty after school, but my inbox is always full. Kids are reaching out to us in their language, not ours, and I think that's ok. 

2. Our teachers are gaining more autonomy through this device. 

Again, that statement may be a little puzzling at first glance. I believed the 1:1 initiative would zap the personality out of my class too, but that was far from the case. Now more than ever, I am able to create authentic lessons that speak to the goals I have for my students. I am still working within the framework of a shared curriculum, but this initiative, when implemented correctly, allows teachers to branch off in whatever direction they decide. Constant reflection, data gathering, and a willingness to admit failure are key components of making a successful 1:1 teacher.  Yet, I feel empowered to still take students down "my path." Every consciousness educator has a vision for what students will accomplish in their class. Having a device in front of every kid expands that vision vertically and horizontally.

3. Our instructional methods are more relevant than they used to be.

After high school, most of our students will not be asked to summarize a primary source. They won't be required to fill out worksheets, or do vocab. They may not even have to interview or create a paper resume for the job they want. We really cannot predict these things, or pretend to know what the future of our job market holds. What we can do is make our teaching relevant. Technology allows everyone in the room to learn together. It places the student and the teacher on an equal playing field. The "millennials" that fill our classrooms today were raised in and through technology. It is our obligation to teach towards their learning style and in doing so, we are staying current with what our students deserve.

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