The fall trimester ended with the final exam Friday morning, and faculty huddled in the stone chapel for a meeting that lasted more than two hours. A recurring theme--appropriate for the season--was the expression of gratitude. We recognized new teachers who have completed their first term; we recognized Brenda Godwin in her 25th year at Proctor; individuals were thanked for extraordinary commitment....to the NEASC evaluation process, to students in need, to one another. In a memorable moment, Gerry--our (student) School Leader--thanked the faculty for being "remarkable."
When one or two teachers attend the same conference, they can report back to the whole with some success, but when 14 return from three days at the Learning & the Brain Conference, the trickle-down benefit is exponentially greater. Their excitement with the open opportunities for technology, whole-student engagement, student-centered learning and awareness of neuro-plasticity is irresistable. In addition to learning from experts and peers, they return to Proctor with affirmation that this school was precocious in its bold direction decades ago, when we committed to experiential learning, informal barrier-breaking relationships, and classrooms that blend work with laughter and fun.
Three or four teachers took turns demonstrating some basic priciples from the conference, a conference that declares "Congnitive Neuroscience research shows active, self-directed learning engages the brain better than sitting in rows listening passively to instruction. New technology is also changing how and where students learn, offering more opportunities for active, student-directed learning inside and outside the classroom." Hmmmm....inside and outside the classroom....now there's an idea!
In the past, the presentation of information through a well-constructed lecture was justifiable use of precious classroom time. That's no longer true. Technology brings the dynamic presentation of information to every student, 24 hours a day. You can "attend the lecture" during study hall. So we've "flipped" the classroom experience: classtime is when we analyze, problem-solve, share problems and insights, tear things apart and put them back together.
Consider the program topics and you get the point: Blended Teaching for Deeper Learning; Using Nature, Outdoor & Art Experiences; Global Minds and Collaborations, etc. Learning is no longer about right and wrong; it's depth, quality of analysis, free and open application of methods, sharing and testing ideas.
If all of the opportunities seem as overwhelming as they are exciting, consider the fact that the entire iPad initiative could not have been anticipated five years ago, and we are just learning how to capitalize on its potential. Twenty-first Century teaching is more than grappling with multiple variables. They are moving targets....seemingly flying at us.
We have much to be grateful for.
The end of term faculty meeting repeatedly turned to expressions of gratitude.
As well as the opportunities and challenges posed by technology.
Attendees to a cutting-edge conference returned gushing with perspectives that reaffirm our preference for student-centered, activity-based learning.
It's a holistic definition of education.
One that includes hard work.
Discussion: To what extent do we limit cell phone use?