Great Teachers Learn With Their Students

Originally posted at www.toddnorton.me


Guest post by Todd Norton

A small victory on the second day of school this year still has me smiling.  It was something very simple, a small bit of knowledge that I had just learned and thought my students already knew.  However, when I told my high school students that typing the letter d before someone’s Twitter handle would send them a direct message, it was like the heavens opened up and my students saw me as someone who actually knew what I was talking about.  I have come to expect that students will appreciate my knowledge on some sophisticated software program, but enter the world of social media and they think I’m too old to understand.

 I try to remind my students that I was hanging out on online bulletin boards before they were even born.  They laugh when I tell them I skipped out early on my sophomore homecoming dance to install my 14k modem and got online while my girlfriend slept on the couch, annoyed by my need to connect.  Yet, when it comes to their world, one that is always on, always connected, they see me as a foreigner.

As tech leaders, we must understand that a connected life is all our students know.  They have learned to share and over share online.  They want instant access to knowledge and are not afraid to tackle a task well beyond them because they know that there is probably a video on Youtube already describing how to do it.  They want to be a part of a culture that is always sharing, always creating, always connecting. 

Our schools must reflect their culture.  Gone are the days where we exist solely to teach them.  We must be ok with learning with them.  We must not be afraid when learning goes beyond our own knowledge base.  We must be confident enough to not fear the students who know more than us.  We must allow our students to go much further in their learning than we ever imagined.  We must not hold them back.

The global world they are entering is moving at breakneck speeds.  There is so much to learn and understand.  However, if we chose a path of learning with our students, they (and we) will be just fine.  

Image credit: Flicker user Ken Whytock

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