By Matthew Olinski — Many undergrads finishing up their studies in the College of Education are in the process of student teaching.
I remember my days as a student teacher in the classroom. I was nervous, I thought I knew what to do; sometimes, and then other times, I probably had a glazed over look on my face. I don’t think that changed much even after I started my first real teaching job.
I reflected on my teaching experiences even before it was a buzz word in the education community, sometimes to a fault. I would pain over why certain students didn’t do well on a quiz or a test. I would look back at why I had dead silence in my classroom as I attempted to engage students in classroom discussion, or conversely, why some classroom discussions took a turn for the worse and lost their focus.
I have learned a few things since then.
I can’t claim to be an expert by any means, and I think in large part, that is what it takes to be a truly reflective teacher, and one who is going to be successful. As someone working in the education field, things are constantly changing. I have overhead transparencies from my first years of teaching. Now, I can’t even find a machine to make one on if I wanted to. (I don’t use them anyway – so no big deal). I was one of the first to start using an LCD projector for (gasp) power point notes. My principal at the time offered to buy my LCD projector that I bought with my own money. Foolishly, I said no. The bulb went out a year later and a very expensive piece of equipment was now lost. LCD projectors, SMART boards, document cameras, and even IPads are becoming standard issue in classrooms. These were things not even created when I started teaching only 12 years ago.
The question is, what are you going to do to adapt to the changes made in education?
I have made every attempt to keep up with changing technology. Who is to say what the future holds for classrooms of the future. At one point, we had a DLL, a distance learning lab in our school. It would allow us to teach a class to students from another part of the state whose school didn’t offer that class, for example Advanced Placement European history or American Sign Language. Unfortunately, budgets tightened and the DLL was shut down, but that to me seems to be a projection into what education might begin looking like in the future.
The education field is changing, in some ways slowly, in others more quickly. We have more tools than ever before to help our students learn. Are we using them appropriately? What I mean by that is, are we using them to their full potential? To all of the undergrads who are beginning your student teaching experiences, you have a very large advantage. For the most part, you have been exposed to this technology at an earlier age and in more depth than some of your colleagues. Take this opportunity to see what options you have available to you in order to best serve your students. In 10 years, you might be reflecting back on how things have changed as well, both in technology and in your classroom practices as a result.