What does it mean to be an effective 21st century educator?

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What does it mean to be an effective 21st century educator? by Mind Map: What does it mean to be an effective 21st century educator?

1. Having a professional educator identity.

1.1. Grant, C. (1984)- In order to become an efficient professional teacher it is important to have a vision of what type of teacher you hope to be. This requires you to reflect specifically on what your teaching, and more importantly on how your teaching it. This means giving careful and active consideration to the consequences your teaching methods might have. It is very easy to fall into the trap of simply working on impulse or tradition and letting your teaching become routine. Taking time to actively reflect and looking critically on your teaching will help you achieve your teaching goals, and make you a much more effective educator over all.

1.1.1. The habit of being a reflective teacher will undoubtedly make you a more efficient educator, but I believe that critically reflecting on yourself can be beneficial in all aspects of your life, similar to the benefits of writing in a journal. Reflecting o your teaching is specifically important though because of the affect your having on young lives. If your teaching is having a destructive effect, and you never stop to realize it, it will have serious consequences for many students. Even if you aren't helping them reach their fullest potential you are failing at your job, and you can only change that by reflecting on yourself. Realizing if your doing something wrong is the first and most important step to changing it.

1.2. Pugach, M. (2006)- As a pre-service teacher going into the profession I have experiences which have already influenced how I think about teaching. These preconceptions are formed by my own experiences as a student, my autobiography (e.g. my families jobs or beliefs, or my own personal commitments, etc.), my personal beliefs, my experience working in schools and through portrayals of teachings in the media and popular culture. In order to become an effective professional it is important to question my pre-existing beliefs and attempt to identify any misconceptions about the teaching profession. I must address professional knowledge and experience towards any pre-existing beliefs in order to determine the truth behind them. If I am willing and able to question my potential misconceptions I will be working as a true professional.

1.2.1. I think my most of my ideas of what teaching is have come from my observation of teachers I've had in the past. None of my family members have been teachers nor was I ever close friends with one. Also I don't think popular culture has had to much affect on my perception of teaching. I usually know that a funny, negative representation of teach (like the teacher form Ferris Buellers day off) is inaccurate and most just being played for laughs. However I have definitely felt inspired by representation of good teachers such as Robin Williams character from Dead Poets Society. These things have affected my assumptions to an extent I'm sure, but I specifically remember closely observing teachers and noticing what I thought was good teaching and what was bad. I would always get annoyed when they were using techniques I thought were ineffective, and pondered on how I would go about teaching the same thing differently. This didn't give me a complete idea of everything required in teaching obviously, but observing teachers definitely made me think critically about education, and certainly influenced my decision to pursue teaching as a profession.

1.3. Martin, D., & Loomis, K. (2006) -There are 5 basic philosophical approaches that can be adopted when considering the most effective methods of teaching. Perrenialism suggests that everyone should be taught the exact same curriculum from generation to genereation, and the bulk of that education should come from the "classics". Essentialism highlights the importance of learning essential skills and knowledge that a student would need to be productive in the work place. What these essentials are will vary depending on place and time, but in all cases they should go back to basics so every student acquire the knowledge and skill they need to be productive. Progressivism focuses on learning real life practical skills by doing them. The goal is to teach students to become life long learners in an ever changing society. In Existentialism the student is meant to find themselves, with the teacher simply being a guide showing them how to make good choices. It also places huge emphasis on self-directed learning. Lastly Social Reonstructionism moves away from teaching reading and writing and instead focuses on creating good citizens. From this perspective schools are seen as reformators of society rather than transmitters of knowledge.

1.3.1. The philosophy that I most identify with is definitely progressivism. It also seems to be the pervasive philosophical approach in modern albertan education. Many of our class discussions, as well as the principles of inspiring education seem to fall under the umbrella of progressivism. I think a progressive approach will likely be the most beneficial for the students in the long run because of it's emphasis on practical skills and becoming life long learners. It's likely that an approach such as essentialism may result in graduating with more knowledge and higher test scores, but I don't think that effectively teaches you to work practically and think critically. It is impossible to determine what skills and knowledge will be essential in the near future and therefor a progressive approach will give students a much greater ability to adapt and be successful regardless of their circumstances.

2. Working effectively from within the structures and institutions that govern education in Alberta.

2.1. Johnson, J & McDonough, B. (2010)- Alberta education is currently taking a big step towards inspiring education, a movement that aims to transform current teaching methods and curriculum to more effectively prepare students for their unpredictable futures in this ever changing society. Specifically inspiring education wants to teach students to become engaged thinkers (who think critically, use technology effectively and most of all become life long learners), ethical citizens (who demonstrate respect and compassion, and contribute fully to their community and their world) and acquire an entrepreneurial spirit (use hard work and discipline to create their own opportunities and succeed in society). In order to make this transformation Alberta education is putting a strong emphasis on new principles. We should be more focused on education and less on the school systems, and like wise education should be more centred on the leaner as opposed to the system; giving each students individual needs more focus. We should also put less emphasis on content and greater emphasis on building competencies so you have the ability to find information for yourself. A final key shift is to use less technology to support teaching and more technology to promote the creating and sharing of knowledge.

2.1.1. Many of the changes emphasized by inspiring education are techniques and principles many teachers have already been using for a long time. However it is great seeing such a strong and focused movement on a provincial level. What makes me particular optimistic about the potential success of this transformation is the extensive amount of research conducted before laying down the movements principles and foundations. Making sure inspiring education is the most beneficial for the most number of students of any race, culture or gender is integral to it's success. Therefor seeing Alberta education going to great lengths to make the most informed guidelines possible is fantastic.

2.1.2. One truth that inspiring education is built upon is that we can not determine specifically what material will be relevant to our students in the unpredictable future. This really resonated with me because it seems very humble and down to earth for a provincial government institution to admit such a thing. The future is so unpredictable that looking ahead we have no choice but to teach students to be successful for themselves regardless of what the future may hold. Teaching students to be engaged thinkers, ethical citizens and to have entrepreneurial spirits' is the perfect way to prepare students for the unknown, for someone who posses all those attributes is very likely to succeed and be a productive member of society regardless of what path their life might take.

3. Understanding current issues in Education.

3.1. Walton, G. (2004)- Within the past year Canadian schools have developed many safe school policies and programs due to occurrences of violent bullying and even a shooting in Canadian schools. However homophobia has rarely been addressed when speaking about bullying. The heteronormative system at place in our school labels anyone who is not straight as deviant, which result in excessive bullying and even threats and violence. Many teachers are hesitant too discuss LGBT issues in the classroom since many parents have strong negative to reactions to what their children are being taught. Parents, organizations and even some teachers are still oppose anti-homophobic action. Anti bully movements have always focused on individual students who might need discipling, but never the systematic problem such as the inherently homo-phobic nature of our school system. Therefor the only real solution to this problem is not to focus on specific cases of bullying, but rather to focus on creating a school culture of non-violence. Teachers must lead the way towards creating a safe environment for everyone.

3.1.1. I find it very tragic that there a lot of educators still not opposed to taking strong anti-homophobic actions in schools. For me this serves as a strong indication of how far our education system still has to go to even catch up with the rest of society. It is especially tragic hearing or reading about educators themselves discriminating against LGBT students, such as not allowing same sex couples to attend school proms. No teacher would idly stand by if he/she was to see racist bullying or discrimination, yet some teachers not only permit homophobic bullying, but even contribute on occasion. This needs to change. If our school system and educators still holds a strong heteronormative mind set, than students will continue to feel justified in their bullying. Educators need to come to grips with their own homophobia first and only then can we lead our students to create a safe learning environment for everyone.

3.1.2. It could be argued that society as a whole is fundamentally heteronormative, and our schools are simply a part of the larger system. Anti-homophobic measures are also strongly contested by conservative parents, educators and organizations such a focus on the family, making it much more difficult for schools to make a firm stance on LGBT issues. In my opinion however this is a weak and unacceptable excuse. Schools exist specifically to help our students become just citizens and the next generation of our society. Schools should be leaders on social justice issues, and should be at the fore front in creating a just and equal society. Allowing bullying and open discrimination of students based on old fashioned values is counterproductive to the entire goal and function of education in the first place, and it is something that needs to stop now!

3.2. Ghosh, R. (2008)- First and foremost when talking about racism we must recognize that racism is still a serious issue (even in Canada), and we must have a clear understanding of what racism is. Race is a socially constructed concept based purely on physical characteristics, and racism is any discrimination based on these physical characteristics. It is an issue of political power, where the belief in the inherit superiority of once race over another maintains power and privileges to those who already have it. Though open racism has been mostly eliminated from Canada's school systems and curriculum, the hidden curriculum still emphasize racism in subtle ways. The hidden curriculum is the cultural and economic-political structure of society which teachers often reinforce based on their own socialized values. Teachers must be aware of how they subtly empower and disadvantage different students in this way. Since discrimination is an aspect of socialization, schools are the perfect opportunity to prevent future racism. Schools need to examine how they are perpetuating societal discrimination, and teach similar critical self examination to our students.

3.2.1. This sort of racism I think is a very challenging thing to eliminate as we usually show this racism without realizing it. I would never dream of being openly, consciously racist against a student particularly in front of a classroom. However I do have racist prejudice that I act upon unknowingly. This is where personal reflection comes in, for critically examining what I do is the only way I can identify these prejudices and work to fix them. I should do this for my own personal growth, but more importantly to have more control about the hidden curriculum I am teaching to my students.

4. Serving as an agent of change in you school.

4.1. Sensoy, O. & DiAngelo, R. (2012)- As educators it is our responsibility to help students develop the ability to think critically about social justice issues which students may already have strong, emotional opinions on. This can be a challenging and potentially dangerous task as these discussions could lead to unwanted controversy, and potentially damaging some student's self image. However there are methods we can use to help the exploration of potentially controversial social justice issues. Five guidelines that should be established before hand in order for your classroom to hold a constructive conversation are: 1. Admit what you don't know, and strive for intellectual humility. 2. Everyone has opinions, but these opinions are not the same as informed knowledge. 3. Let go of personal evidence and look at the broader social patterns. 4. Notice your own defensive reactions, and then use them as a way to acquire deeper self-knowledge. 5. Notice how your own social position (race, gender, sexuality, etc...) informs your reaction to your instructors, and the material studied in class.

4.1.1. As someone with more life experience, and education than my students It could be easy to assume that I have a more informed and complete opinions on social issues. However it's important to remember that these 5 guidelines apply just as strongly to myself as to my students,. I am very passionate about certain issues such as gay rights, but I need to stay humble and listen to my students perspectives and opinions. I cannot expect my students to be constructive about others opinions they disagree with even if they don't do the same. This doesn't mean I can't argue for something I feel strongly for, as I believe that is what is best for my students, but it's important to be conscious of how I do this, and stick to these 5 guidelines while doing so.

4.2. Osborne, K. (1991)- It is incredibly important to critically examine the material that we are teaching our students, but what's arguably even more important is how we teach it (Pedagogy). We must start by realizing that 1. Students learn form how we teach them as well as what we teach them. 2.Students learn crucial long lasting lessons from how we teach 3. Our decisions of how to teach reflect basic philosophical and political choices 4. A wider and more varied pedagogy will make learning more interesting and effective. When teaching there are techniques (lecturing, class discussion, field trips, etc.) which are for the most part neither good nor bad. Then there is your approach which is your over all attitude when teaching. For example having a strict set of rules and enforcing them as the authority figure in power may result in a well disciplined classroom, but this is giving a political message to the students all on it's own. Do we want our future citizens to be raised in such a strict authoritative manner? Do we want them to learn that they are ignorant and are meant to sit and learn rather than think critically and independently for themselves? Do we want the central message to be one of dependence, obedience and conformity? Pedagogy matters in the development of children long after they leave school, and therefor it is of integral importance that we consider what kind of citizens our teaching approach is producing, and if that is in fact the best approach for the student.

4.2.1. I think that taking more authoritarian approaches to teaching and exercising such power in the classroom does more than just teach students to be submissive and disempowered. I think it may also be responsible for some deviant behaviour of students who are trying to resist this the classroom power structure. Students who challenge their teachers with inappropriate behaviour are likely be dealt with discipline, but it may be worth considering why they feel the need to resist the structure of the classroom. If they feel more empowered and less restricted by our teaching methods they will likely not have such a strong need to rebel or act defiantly.