Get Out of the Way

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June 13th, 2011

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View from the District with Andy McKiel!


I love this photo that my brother-in-law captured at the Grand National Park Zoo in Seoul.  While there’s such human emotion in the photo, it’s a primate who’s being held captive behind bars.  When I look at this photo, I know exactly what this ape was thinking and feeling.

Nobody likes to feel trapped.

But, unfortunately, many kids in many classrooms today do feel stuck.  Attribute it to whatever cause you wish, the fact of the matter is that many students are looking for an escape.  They want to get away from the way that school has always been done.  They need to move beyond the barriers of traditional classroom walls.  They crave more opportunities to connect and collaborate.

As a classroom teacher, the worst thing you can do is get in the way of kid’s learning.  All of the research shows that we learn best when we learn together.  We are social animals and we need to belong to communities of learners.

We all know that existing technologies make it far easier than ever before to connect with other people in other places.  We’ve seen social media begin to transform the very means of our existence.  And we’re only just beginning to realize it’s potential.

If you’re an educator, you owe it to your students to provide them with more opportunities to share their learning with others.  Don’t be a barrier for your students – give them more control over their own learning.  Embrace some of the tools that exist which foster networked learning.  Provide opportunities for your students to learn with and from each other, rather than simply doling out knowledge to your students one lesson at a time.

We need to hand the reins over to our students to allow them to take their learning in different directions and to learn at different rates.  Edmodo is the perfect tool to assist educators in gradually releasing control to their students, empowering them to demonstrate their own learning in meaningful ways.

It’s time for all stakeholders in our education system to take the emphasis off of the teaching that happens within our classrooms and shift our focus to the student learning that’s taking place inside our classrooms and beyond the confines of our school buildings.

We know the benefits of encouraging our students to connect and collaborate.  Let’s give them the tools they need to be successful, show them the ropes, then get out of their way and watch their learning grow…

Image Credits: ‘Dont be a barrier’ + ‘Little boy in a pot of ropes


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