Learning or Teaching?

“I’ve never seen a kid with a SmartBoard in his house. Those are teaching tools, not learning tools.” — Will Richardson


That got me thinking. As educators, are we really focused on student learning or are we focused on teaching the students? I think that we believe that student learning is at the forefront. I also think that we are fooling ourselves.

As I reflect on my own teaching I have come to realize that what and how I am teaching is usually my first priority. At times I get focused on planning the perfect lesson using the perfect tools or having the perfect, mind-blowing, slide deck. To me, this is understandable because I am usually teaching teachers or modeling a lesson for a teacher so I really want to impress them and show them the usefulness of a tool. Thinking back to my time in the classroom, however, I remember times when I was trying to impress the students and my supervisor with my technological wizardry. I wasn’t focused on their learning, I was focused on my teaching.

There have been some happy accidents with that approach. In an effort to use more video with my classes, I once set up an iPad on the gym floor to take video of some soccer skills. When I watched the video I saw that it was of my feet and the soccer ball. All of the extra stuff was eliminated. That was an aha moment for me, as I realized that when I taught kids skills by demonstrating to a class who was sitting on the floor, only the kids in the front could really see what I was doing. By having the video of just my feet and the soccer ball, every student could see what I was asking them to do. That was a great outcome of my trying to impress.

Looking forward, I am going to focus on how the students can best learn, what they want to learn, and how to best facilitate that learning instead of trying to impress with the latest technological innovation, unless it will help them learn.

Will Richardson asks a great question, “Why is school the only place in my kids world where they can’t take technology out of their pockets and backpacks and answer the questions they’re being asked?” If we are focused on student learning, won’t we allow them to use the best available tool to enhance their learning?

A couple of things for you to ponder. Has how kids learn changed? How will you focus on student learning today and into the future?

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