I can’t go back to the way I taught before

I have been reading a really interesting report which was about a Project based in Onslow County, North Carolina, that used smartphones given to high school students to see if it would improve their mathematics.

The sub-title was:

Students leverage the power of mobile devices through the
Project K-Nect Mobile Learning Initiative in Onslow County

The results were impressive. There was definitely progress made by the students having access to the phones. Two comments in the report were:

“The smart phone is like a teacher in my pocket.” – Project K-Nect Student
“I can’t go back to the way I taught before Project K-Nect.” Project K-Nect Teacher

The teacher’s comment resonated with me. I am taking early retirement from my position as a Consultant and will be doing some supply teaching as well as freelance consultancy in the new year. My teaching style in the days that I was a full-time teacher was very much “the sage on the stage”. I was very much a performance teacher. I know now that this is not what helps children learn… it is not about me.. it is about them and I need to facilitate their learning and interact with them effectively.

To quote the report again:

Through interviews, the teachers reveal that mobile devices and the problem-based learning approach
encouraged through Project K-Nect transformed the way they taught math.  The teachers report they
now rely more on facilitation and less on direct instruction, encourage students to talk with and teach
each other, and create relevance for students by creating assignments that help them see math in their
world outside of the classroom

So, just like the teacher who said that they couldn’t go back to the old, didactic, chalk-and-talk, “sage on the stage” approach to teach,I too have to change. I realise that my pupils will probably not have the advantages of using the smartphones that the high school students of Onslow County were able to use, but that’s not because I don’t want to use them (far from it) but because of the continuing ban on their use in most schools.

The open-ended, collaborative, discussion-based approach to teaching  I can and must do… because I now realise that that’s how we all learn best.

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