Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Teachers are designers

Welcome to my new blog, Contemporary Teacher.

As with many blogs, a title is important - I wanted to call mine "Modern Teacher" but as that was taken, I dug into my mental thesaurus and determined to use the word "contemporary" instead. Neither title is particularly creative, but then again, someone with more time and a better mental thesaurus has probably already taken the better titles. Certainly I didn't want to use the great buzz word "21st Century Teacher" as buzz words come and go (and that was also probably taken). Contemporary is a word that evolves, as every good teacher evolves to fit the times and trends they live in.

So what features define the well-evolved modern model of a teacher? Honestly, opinions vary. Here are my own:

Teachers are designers. We design:
  1. curricula
  2. classroom environments
  3. websites
  4. student-to-student interactions
  5. lesson plans
  6. management tools
It is not enough to merely consider the art of education a realm of planning and dissemination of information. Teachers are the designers of a holistic experience relating to one or many contents. The best teachers, make sure to stick with that latter.

It is not enough to teach science as science. A great teacher designs a science lesson within the context of the greater world and considers the social context of scientific learning, the  myriad avenues of receiving and communicating the information (literacy), and the natural place mathematical thinking has in any field of study. And a great teacher realizes that the previous sentence is but an example and understands how to rearrange those same ideas in order to address any content he or she many be responsible for teaching. They also realize that into that same sentence could be added context for exploratory learning into the realms of physical, musical, artistic, industrial, and technological education (or anything else you could possibly think of).

But how exactly, do we, as either generalists, or specialists, manage to design a classroom experience that is so thoroughly complete? Step 1: stop over-thinking. No, I am not trying to be condescending. I mean it. The biggest struggle we face as teachers is our expectations for ourselves. Sometimes these expectations get so thoroughly out of line that we find ourselves miserable and overwhelmed. Take a breath and 1st take stock of what you're already doing. Chances are that some of the time, you fit the above-described educational figure. And if you're curious about how at least one other teacher is addressing the 6 above-listed topics, then visit this blog again and keep reading.

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