Lots and lots and lots.
Which to some, particularly my children, would be self-evident, but to a teacher, especially one who has been teaching a long time, is problematic. Because there is a great deal that I do know after having been in a classroom for 20 years. The problem is that so much of what I do know about teaching may no longer be relevant.
Anyone who has been teaching in Ontario for the past 5 years, knows one thing for certain. We have been inserviced to death on new teaching methods. Every week we are presented with yet another add-on: data collection, flexible groupings, modelled, shared and guided reading, differentiated instruction, multiple-intelligences, critical literacy, technology integration, data bases, school improvement plans, improving EQAO scores, …. It has reached such a terrible point, that many wonderful, cabable amazing teachers feel incompetent and uncertain and overwhelmed and saddest of all: Ready to Quit.
What should we as teachers be doing? How do we make sense out of all THAT STUFF? How does all THAT STUFF fit together? Why do “they” keep piling on more and more and more? Why do “they” keep asking me to change my practice? I am a good teacher. Students in my class learn. What’s the purpose behind all of this change?
I have come to realize, after a great deal of reflection that education in the 21 century is going to be very different. We are at the floundering about stage of change and no one knows exactly what learning and teaching will look like, but there is a vast, global network of researchers, technology specialists, educators and most importantly of all -students, who are in the process of finding out. And, unless we are prepared to experiment and take risks in our classrooms with what they are telling us, we will not move forward. Our teaching practice will have become irrelevant.
So, as an educator, I am not interested in what I already know about teaching. I will continue to use my well-honed skills as they are necessary. It is what I do not yet know that intrigues and excites me. I feel that I am on the precipice of an incredible canyon and once I jump, I will be in a whole new world of learning. I now belong to a global network of educators who are moving forward – one step behind our students.
This blog and my website (which is underconstruction) will document this process. I will share lessons, ideas, pictures of my classroom, videos – whatever can be shared – to assist and encourage other teachers to make the leap into 21st century learning.