Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’. (Bob Dylan, 1964)
There is a new group of teachers in town. For the next eight months, at Brock University in Hamilton, Ontario, these teachers will learn and practice what it truly means to teach in the 21st Century. Nope. This doesn’t mean they will graduate as Information Technology Specialists. Nor does it mean that they will be computer programmers, or expert gamers, or trained ‘techies’.
What it means, is that they will truly understand how to work in a networked world, that doesn’t have the limits of walls, or buildings. They will learn why relationships, equity, environment and community are above and beyond anything in the learning model. They will practice a distributed leadership model by sharing their skills and knowledge across their program, their internship schools, and within the wider global community. These new teachers will blog – not to just deliver information, but to share their learning, to reflect and to lead in an open and transparent way. Shawn, one Pre-service Teachers, explains,
“I have never integrated myself into a project of many people (strangers, really, though only for a short while) working collectively towards a goal larger than themselves. The fact of that now amazes me, because that is what 21st technology is all about. And with that realization, I find I’ve been incorrectly viewing new technology as an end in itself, and not the means with which I can make a contribution in “real life.” Touch screens, smartboards and live feeds are tremendous advancements, but they’re usefulness goes so much deeper then simple fodder for gadget hounds like myself. As a teacher, I am going to have to get very used to linking my life collectively with groups, and that is the first and easily the most important lesson this cohort has given me thus far.
A FEW GUIDING PRINCIPLES as we facilitate this journey of Teacher Education:
1. ALWAYS participate in a Professional Learning Network, be genorous and mentor others:
Virtual Associate Mentors/Teachers have welcomed this cohort with arms wide open into an established professional learning network. Incredible demonstration of generosity of skill and time.
2. ALWAYS demonstrate that good teaching means learning together in a variety of ways, with a variety of tools.
Teacher Candidates using the Livescribe pen to make audio and digital ink recordings to capture their thoughts about Professional Teaching Standards. They ask, “What does Society expect from its teachers? They explore a variety of mediums – text, audio and digital as a way to express their thoughts and as a method to share with others.
3. ALWAYS demonstrate that good teaching means facilitating a SAFE, CARING, and EQUITABLE environment where everyone can learn using a variety of skills, and talents.
Teacher Candidates explore symbols in learning. Here, they personalize rocks in a deliberate effort to begin the process of relationship building. They begin to understand the power of CREATIVITY and ARTS when working within a diverse group.
4. ALWAYS collaborate and share
Teacher Candidates gasp as they see the power of co-creating for the FIRST time. They explore the content and pedagogy that is modeled to them and they relate this to their own journey as Teacher Education students through the TPACK framework.
5. ALWAYS be open to learning new skills and new methods of learning and teaching.
All Teacher Candidates are required to take an Technology in Education course which provides them with an opportunity to explore a variety of new teaching tools. They work in classrooms with integrated Front Row Audio systems, Smartboards, Wireless internet. They are encouraged to bring in their own devices. They have access and can sign out projectors, iPods, Livescribes and Video Cameras. They are provided with class time to learn web 2.0 tools and they use blogs and podcasts to share their learning.