I haven't blogged for over a year and now "I'm back!" This was all sparked by an article I read this morning on Twitter called "Deconstruction of the American Teacher". It led me to start thinking about educational reform and how I would answer the question, "Should I become a teacher?"
Education has shifted with society over time. Society has asked many things of schools over the years and the 21st century is changing faster than ever. In my role as a 21st century instructional specialist I work with teachers on instructional design and pedagogical approaches that infuse technology in a meaningful way. I focus on how these technology infused approaches will support their instructional goals.
In this work I have realized the need for teachers has not diminished, but has increased exponentially. Here are a few thoughts on why teachers are needed more than ever in the 21st century classroom.
The part I miss most about being in the classroom is the relationships I built with my students. I had the opportunity to mold 25-30 learners over the course of the year. In their eyes I was a "mentor", "cool", or for most "tall" (I taught third grade and am 6’4). Technology can never replace relationships and as Salman Khan describes in his Ted talk in 2011 it can actually humanize education. He references how an unforeseen impact of Khan Academy was providing a "higher ratio of student to valuable time with the teacher ratio." This allows teachers to reinvent classroom time to focus deeper on student needs both emotionally and academically. Blended learning environments provide more time for that teacher to build valuable relationships with their students.
I have been reading the book Teacher as Architect which dives into what it means to be a "Modern Teacher." In this book it discusses how teachers are more than facilitators, but "architects of learning." We are called to design and personalize learning experiences for all students while allowing them to have some choice over time, path, pace, and place. Technology makes this process more efficient, but I feel it makes the need for teachers even greater. There are thousands of resources available online, but the teacher knows their learners best and is the best person to architect experiences that allow each child to flourish in their classroom. They know their learners and each year a new set of learners walks through their door with a unique set of needs. Technology can only diagnose some of those needs, but the teacher is a vital part of providing the necessary learning support so that all students thrive in their classroom. In the book Blended the authors discuss how many online schools have transitioned to a blended environment because students wanted that face to face contact and interaction.
Should I become a teacher?
Teachers are a vital part of the modern classroom. They will not be replaced by technology, but only enhanced. I am not currently in the classroom, but I get the opportunity to work with hundreds of talented educators who are impacting our students of the future. I chose my current path to make an impact on education on a larger scale, but I know I could return to the classroom anytime. Being a teacher is hard, but rewarding work.