It has been another steep learning curve this year.
Last year, as a first time full-load classroom teacher, my biggest struggle was behavioural management. Now that students know me better, I don’t have to worry about it as much. The Secondary 2s are still a struggle and their mere presence sometimes stresses me out, but otherwise, my daily interaction with students are going very well and I have very few issues in the classroom.
This year, after taking a course on BYOD, I am trying to test out a plethora of new tools. Some of them are a part of my daily life, like my gradebook, ActiveGrade, and Edmodo, where I go to for ideas and teacher support. Others are fantastic when used intermittently for group discussions, like Three Ring, where I post students work anonymously for collaborative assessment, and Gizmos, which is a great place to go when you’re short on ideas and sets of lab equipment.
While using these tools help you connect and engage students more easily, there is additional work to handling it all. That includes helping students retrieve lost passcodes and sending assignments, but in the grand scheme of things, it is actually a lot less work when it comes to marking and creating lesson plans.
I love my tools and now that my students are using them with me, I will never go back.
If you’ve ever met me, or worked with me, you know I will email you a great resource I paid for out of my own pocket. But, and this is a big BUT, there aren’t any geeks at my school who are doing the same and it’s starting to feel lonely. What I’ve realized I now regularly use Edmodo because I am part of a valuable community that enjoys what I share and is responsive to my suggestions; just over two days, I noticed that my science lab safety unit on Blendspace has been viewed more than 360 times (no more than ten view would have been my students)!
Am I slightly resentful of the lack of participation from peers of my own school and board?
Considering that none of us are in competition with each other for jobs, unlike the situation “down south”, I don’t see the need for lack of collaboration. And considering that I’ve been up north for the last three years, have interacted with most teachers professionally, it bugs me that very few people will join in on an online discussion or an email thread, just two weeks after having gotten together face-to-face at a school board conference.
So yes, perhaps I have some slight resentment, but it only makes me realize that I am light years ahead of my coworkers. I’m not sure why educators are hesitant to dive into blended learning, but I am, by no means, responsible for the lack of interest from my colleagues.
It’s unfortunate, because blended learning has become the magic key to accessing the engagement of our current generation, and yet teachers refuse to buy into such a simple solution. I know for a fact that my Aboriginal students prefer blended learning, as well as teachers that make an effort to use it with them.
If my end goal is to serve my students, then I’ve done my job. I’ve decided that I will no longer share resources regularly through Facebook and instead, use my energy to sharing on Edmodo and supporting others who have taken the first step to blended learning simply by being on Edmodo and asking questions.