Most of our current school system revolves around academics, writes high school teacher Shelley Wright, “and yet, I think it falls miserably short of what our kids need. To be honest, I think our academic system of education is highly overrated, at best. At worst, it destroys a number of our kids.”
Why do we have so many students who are frustrated and bored, just waiting to be challenged? We’ve made education about manipulation and hoops instead of inspiring our students to pursue learning that matters to them — learning that can help them make a difference in our communities and the world. By beginning with the Why questions, says teacher Shelley Wright, we can create powerful student-driven learning environments.
I used to think I was a pretty good teacher. Now I realize that I did the best I could with the knowledge I had, but my classroom was woefully inadequate for many of my students. I failed to equip them with what they needed. I now believe my students are competent to show me what they need, if only I take the time to listen and ask authentic questions. I’m becoming a better teacher by giving up a lot of what I used to think.
Many teachers who opt for the flipped classroom strategy are not pursuing a student-centered approach to teaching and learning, says Shelley Wright. The traditional model is simply being reversed — not reinvented. The lecture (live or on video) is still front and center. “Learning isn’t simply a matter of passively absorbing new information while watching a lecture on video,” she says. “New knowledge should be actively constructed.”
Embedded technology is not evidence of a transformational shift in teaching practice. It’s possible to embed technology into every aspect of teaching and learning and still have a completely teacher-centered classroom, with the teacher in control of what is learned, how it’s learned, and for the most part, how students show their learning.