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Monday, February 24, 2014

Educator Dress Code: Pants Now Required!

There is a new dress code for all 21st century educators: Pants are now required!
In short...there is no more "flying by the seat of your pants". Please keep them on at all times!

Yes, this may be a little tongue-in-cheek, but you know what I am talking about. We all have either known, currently work with, or may even describe ourselves as this kind of educator. There are many expressions that these educators use when describing their approach to teaching:
  • flying by the seat of my pants
  • spur of the moment
  • winging it
  • off the cuff
  • playing it by ear
  • improvising
  • off the top of my head
  • thinking on my feet
This philosophy or strategy for educating our 21st century learners can no longer fly! This doesn't mean that great things can't happen this way, but there is now much more room for failure when this is an educator's primary modus operandi.

For example, even if a teacher uses technology only at the substitution level in their classroom, the following issues may arise:
  • is the technology/equipment available?
  • have websites been tested on the school's filter on a student access level?
  • has the material been vetted for school viewing?
  • is the app even on the device to be used?
  • are any updates needed to run the specific site or app (Java anyone?)?
  • does the tech support team know of a more appropriate/better tool or site to use 
Now, let's say that we moved past substitution and actually delved into the deeper, processing layers of instruction. This demands even more from educators:
  • what TEKS will be covered in this PBL unit?
  • what is the driving question? (Wow, these things can be really difficult to write!)
  • what elements should be included in the rubric?
This deeper instructional process demands preparation, but it is a front-loaded process. Once the prep work is done a great teacher then magically turns into facilitator, and the students propel the learning process forward from that point.

We no longer live in a textbook world where we simply turn the page, move onto the next unit, and consider the year's curriculum complete if we make it to the right chapter of the book. Life and classrooms have enough surprises even when well-managed and well-planned. So, leave "flying by the seat of your pants" for life's surprises and for the unexpected discoveries that students will make when involved in a channeled learning environment. Great teaching requires thought, planning, and preparation, so we all need to follow the dress code, and "keep your pants on"!

Challenge:
Love to fly by the seat of your pants but think you are a totally awesome teacher???
I have a question for you:
If you don't know what you really want to do, what you really want the kids to take away, what your primary objective is for the day, and how that will be measured.....then how do you measure success?
Of course class was "successful"! After all, you survived and "pulled it off". Congratulations!
Try planning for a change. It is much more difficult to claim success when you have lofty plans! There is suddenly a "teacher rubric" to meet.
If you are awesome now, try planning and be "awesomer"!! Your students will thank you for it!

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