Sunday, December 15, 2013

Raised by the Old, Inspired by the New

I think the gap between the old and the young in education is as wide as ever. Anyone who is reading this can probably identify as one end of the extreme; and if honesty prevails- could probably stereotype the other end of the spectrum too.

Technology has rapidly changed the way we educate and inspire. Its hands have reached into the way we raise children and how we acquire higher levels of education. But technology has likely been responsible for the largest gap in teaching styles, leadership methods, and educational philosophy this profession has ever seen.

I would like to think of myself as a hybrid of the two, if that's possible. My father taught for 38 years, mostly during the "chalk" ages. Even though he retired just two years ago, I doubt he could elaborate on digital citizenship, online learning management systems, or standards based grading. At the urging of my Dad, I clung on to veteran teachers when I first started. I loved hearing stories about the "old days," long before I arrived. I was honored and humbled to be included in their conversations.

At the same time, I struggled to lecture for 45 minutes like they did. I was bored re-using the same lesson I used the year before. I had to start putting my instructional plans online. I wanted  my students in the computer lab to create and explore.  I couldn't teach the old way. That's not to sound holier than thou- because I didn't really know where I was going as an educator- I just knew I would be running the whole time. Meeting inspired educators and leaders had a lot do with this. Tweeting and blogging contributed too.

In the end, I was raised by the old but inspired by the new. 

As perplexing as that may be, I am often reminded of how similar the two really are. The week before my Dad officially retired, he wrote an email to the faculty at Schaumburg that contained the four things he really believed about teaching:

1. You have to love your subject matter.
2. When it comes to discipline and grades, you have to be fair and consistent.
3. When problems arise, you'll never make a mistake when you err on the side of the student.
4. Most importantly, you have to love kids.

Think about that. Those four ideas are about as relevant as ever in education today. I read similar rhetoric from my PLN on a nightly basis via tweets, blogs, and edchats. Being inspired by the new also means honoring the work that has come before us. Instruction may be changing. Who we are instructing may be changing, but we cannot change our love of teaching and our love of kids- that remains the same.

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