Are we really prepared?

For this week we read a piece by John Pyne called, “Are You Thinking of a Career in Secondary Schools? A Supervisor’s Perspective on Which Candidate to Hire”. This was very interesting and brought up some mixed feelings for me. When people go into education during their undergraduate studies I think there are two motivating factors. I think there is a group who goes into it because they love the subject they picked, and then there are those who go into education because the actual teaching part intrigues them. Personally I fall into the second group. Growing up there was always a part of me that wanted to be a teacher and throughout my first two years in college, while I was constantly switching majors, there was a piece of me that always went back to teaching. Once I decided that education was the path I wanted to take, I had to decide what subject I was going to teach. As I began the process I knew there were a few subjects that I could rule out immediately, math and science. What was left was history and English and I was torn between the two. After going back and forth, I chose history because I loved hearing about historical events and it always interest me thinking about how past events shaped the country that I live in today.

So fast forward to today, I am a senior, History, Secondary Education major, about to face the real world and the daunting task of finding a job. For the past two years I have often questioned my choice to go into the major I did because I found myself in classes, surrounded by people who were so passionate about the course we were taking. Granted, I found them interesting but felt so behind on my knowledge of history, American and World. But when I found myself ready to give up, the thought of my future students kept me hanging on. Now as my schedule is filled with more education classes that teach me pedagogical strategies, I find myself excited to be in class learning. I am excited to take what I have learned and observed and apply it to my future classroom.

How does this go along with John Pyne’s article? Well I personally think that there is a balance between being passionate about content as well as teaching, rather than more emphasis being placed on content. Do I think that it is important to know what you are teaching and find it interesting? Absolutely, it is what is going to make every day of the rest of our lives bearable. But in my opinion it is the love of teaching that is what is the most important. Not all of our students are going to love history or even appreciate it, but as teachers we still have the possibility to influence them outside of teaching historical events.  As I often like to say, I do not want to spend the rest of my life just teaching students about a subject, I want to TEACH my students through a subject. For me this job goes far beyond being passionate and knowledgeable about a content area, it is a responsibility to impact lives and be an example for kids. So as much as I appreciate the value that Pyne puts on content knowledge and passion, I would say that there is more weight outside of content. Does this mentality I have make me nervous? Of course, but content knowledge will come with time, but knowing how to reach students starts on day one.

Where can technology take us?

As every day passes it seems as though there is a new piece of technology being released, a new app, or the newest, and coolest social media site that continues to knock Facebook down. Family dinners have now become places where conversations are being had on technology devices rather than face-to-face. Parents communicate to their children, while they are in the house, through text messages. Long distance relationships are more bearable because you can “see” the other person more. Kids have mastered the art of texting while multi-tasking, the swipe right for a match, or the double tap. Teachers can no longer compete against technology and the world that lives inside of everyone’s pocket, it is time for us to team up with it.

In the video on TeachingHistory.org, it discusses the ways that technology can be a TOOL for teachers in the classroom. As kids become more connected to media and technology, it starts to give teachers an “easy way out” mentality to teaching. It is so easy to throw on a movie that teaches about the time period students are learning because we think it is engaging and educational. In reality though, movies get boring and are not always the most reliable in getting accurate information across. This video does a good job explaining that technology is not there to become a ‘substitute’ in the class but a tool to make class more engaging and fun for students. The more engaged we can get our students the better they will respond to what we are teaching. Rather than letting technology continue to take over, team up with it and allow it to become a ‘partner in crime’ to teaching history.

Another video on TeachingHistory.org showed ways to use technology as a way to help students deepen their understanding of material. The internet is an awesome resource for students and it is a great tool for them to use to find information on things they may not have physical access to. Answers to students’ questions are literally at their fingertips so let them use technology to discover. But along with this amount of information it is also important to make sure that students use it responsibly and are able to understand what is reliable and what is not. It is fine to us Wikipedia for everyday understanding but it is not acceptable to cite it as a source on a research paper. As long as technology is being used as a tool and students do not abuse it, and are aware of methods of using internet resources, there is an endless number of possibilities for students.

Another resource that TeachingHistory.org had was about how to incorporate social media such as Pinterest into the classroom setting. I think it is beneficial to students when teachers can take an interest of the students and relate it to school. This article about how to use Pinterest as a way for students to organize their thoughts, research, and materials was very interesting to me. I think it is a great tool for students to use, that is different than mapping out thoughts on a graphic organizer. I could also see Pinterest being used as a way for students to demonstrate their understanding of a topic. Students could ‘pin’ inventions from the Industrial revolution and show how it has evolved over time. Constantly searching for ways to use what is consuming our students time in the classroom is going to be the best way to relate to students and engage them.

As great as technology is, there are some negative results that can stem from it. It is easy for students to get wrong information from sources on social media which could impact their learning if they are relying on that to carry their education. Just as the video said, technology is meant to be used as a tool. There is still something special about having someone standing in front of you teaching rather than looking at a computer screen for your questions and answers. It is just as easy for teachers to get caught up using technology in their classrooms, but if we team up with it, we can all become a dynamic duo.