Phase VI

Over the Fall ‘16 Semester, I was able to approach and reflect on my Imagine IT through multiple perspectives: books, colleagues’ perspectives, students’ perspectives, research, and my own trial and error. The two biggest takeaways from the texts that I read were (a) many dilemmas that new teachers face stay with educators throughout our careers and that (b) intentionally dissecting the layers of interaction and presentation that occur during instruction may lead to new insights about our practice and ways to move it forward. Although many dilemmas remain the same throughout an educator’s career, many, in order to be successful, find ways to resolve the dilemmas and move on. This is obviously necessary, but through my readings, focus groups, and implementation, I feel that educators need more opportunities to revisit and discuss these dilemmas collaboratively in order to truly find resolutions that best serve students. This time to revisit dilemmas should include both social emotional needs of students and pedagogical decisions.

Through my focus groups, discussions with other fellows, and implementation of my Imagine IT, I was reminded of just how hard-pressed teachers are to teach to standardized tests and how challenging it is for many educators to not only negotiate that pressure, but also find new and innovative ways to engage students and teach conceptually based lessons. Teachers have to navigate myriad demands on their time that have little to do with teaching and learning and many, even in professional development devoted to learning or planning new learning experiences, do not feel they have enough time to explore new teaching ideas or technologies. Even as I attempted to design professional development that would be engaging and relevant to teacher’s interests, I found that many teachers either felt too overextended to try to implement a “new” strategy or simply felt the professional learning I designed was just “another” top-down initiative that would pass with time.

Going forward I seek to alter my approach so that it is more accessible and attractive to teachers while still focusing on the long-term benefits to students. To reach this goal, I will alter my Imagine IT by

1) Soliciting input from teachers on their needs and finding ways to marry the needs of the teachers with the needs of the students (to experience engaging, conceptually based learning experiences).
2) Meeting with teachers one-on-one and in small groups so that I can more readily engage them and cater the information to their specific classrooms.
3) Attempting to design an app that will assist teachers in regularly integrating the TPACK framework into their planning routine in an easy, fun, inspiring way.
While I find myself intimidated by the thought of formally stating my third goal, I am inspired by the following quote, which I serendipitously appeared as the Forbes Quote of the Day (www.forbes.com) when I opened an article about how to write an app:

“We can do anything we want, the trick is, it’s usually waiting for us just beyond our comfort zone.”

– Julia Pimsleur

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