This is an evaluation year for me, and one of our requirements is to write a reflective statement about my goals and thoughts about my own pedagogy. As I wrote it, I felt that the concepts discussed were worthy of putting on the blog, as they incorporate a big chunk of what I usually write about here.
In my seven plus years at my school, I have dramatically changed everything about the way I teach and think about education. The reduced course load (relative to public school) and resulting free time has given me ample opportunity to think critically about my own strength and weaknesses as a teacher, and consequently, what pedagogical philosophies might best work for students. In addition, my continuing interest in technology and it’s ability to better facilitate the type of education I believe to be most philosophically sound has given me the opportunity to immediately implement those philosophical ideas that, ten years ago, would have been impossible. At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, I now feel like I can design a course that depends entirely on multiple experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom, and that the overall learning experience my students have is only partially dependent upon the specifics of a lesson I may draw up for a school day. In fact, I have, within the last two years, abandoned the concept of “lesson planning,” as communication technology has allowed for a learning experience to exist more easily in a nebulous, nonlinear space and time. The idea of “chunking” days by lesson plans has, in my experience over the last five year, become obsolete.
In short, the pedagogical freedom afforded by the program at my school has allowed me to experiment in way I never could have in any previous teaching experience. As it stands today, I am more focused than ever in developing ways in which communication technology can allow me to design learning experiences that more adequately encompass the constructivist and progressive philosophies of John Dewey. In short, I would like to find better ways for the Upper School experience to mimic the progressive experience that occurs in the Lower School, in which teachers allow for more discovery by students and do less delivery of “content.” In order to do that, I need to make sure that I reduce any focus on myself as the center of the classroom (both physically and philosophically), and think more critically about factors in student learning that are not content, such as skills, environments, mindsets, tools and people.
Looking ahead, I would like to develop a course (or a series of courses, or entire curriculum) that leverages technology to in a way that forces me to to re-think face-to-face time, resulting in class periods that are full of experiences that cannot be duplicated through technology. I want to re-think every moment I have with a group of students so that it is spent doing something that is unique to the in-person experience and incorporate a thoughtful use of the six factors I listed in the previous paragraph. As technology makes space and time less relevant, I believe it is incumbent upon teachers to make the time that is spent in person unique and unable to be mimicked by the virtual and technological world.