Our 8th grade students spent a great day at the Museum of Science and Industry, thanks to the incredible planning of our science teacher. Students got a chance to see the robotics exhibit and also watch a dome film about engineering. I am really impressed by this museum as it really inspires students for the future.
My principal who went on the field trip, asked me, “how do we bring this (robots, programming, etc) to our classrooms? This is their (our students) world, and this will help engage them. How do we make our classes, for instance Algebra Excite, exciting for our students?” I full heartedly agree with him, but am stuck in figuring out how we can make it happen. It is important to note that principals really do want awesome things to happen in their schools, and to spark innovation. I am so grateful that my principal is a visionary and wants what is best for students at the end of the day. The question now is how do we make it happen?
Our students should be tinkering and problem solving; not learning skills that they are tested on three times a year. Nevertheless we are constrained by data points and teaching to the test. And when do teachers receive planning time for interdisciplinary units with common prep time with their grade level teams? Never, unless we volunteer our time outside of the school schedule. We must rethink how we do school. Our students are creative, they want to see the relevance in learning, without a doubt but the systems in place and our countless meetings do not support these opportunities. That is the reality.
Sometimes as a teacher I really feel stuck given my constraints. I am given a curriculum and timeline and know that by the end of the year my students need to master the given standards. But some days, it takes just one kid to make your day. Just yesterday I had a student tell me, “I love math class! It goes by too fast and I don’t even hear the second period bell ring” with the biggest smile on her face. I am happy to hear that I am keeping the majority of them engaged and they are finding meaning out of their class, especially at the end of the day. Nevertheless, it makes me wonder, why are you looking at the clock in your other classes? What opportunities are helping students and what are hindering our students? There is no easy answer but it all begins with the question: What is the purpose?
There are other students who are not as engaged, and I know for a fact that if I give them opportunities to tinker with robots and to learn through play and design that they would buy into education more. However, I do not have the necessary resources to make this happen. Perhaps a gofundme or donors choose account would help start a great mission, but I do not want to ask for money unless I have a clear plan and mission.
I truly believe that the purpose of education is to prepare our students for the 21st century and this is to prepare them for our global society and to help them recognize that they are part of a bigger system than just America. It was great finally getting to discuss with our 8th grade science and social studies teacher about his beliefs in education. I think we see eye to eye when it comes to helping students develop skills to analyze current events and to reflect on the past, problem solving for a better future. We both agree that teachers must help students connect the past to the present and to analyze and to think critically about current events. We also agreed that our time constraints restrict us from planning opportunities for students together on interdisciplinary units, but it would be so cool if we had the opportunity to.
On a positive note, it only takes a few like minds to begin a revolution. I am hopeful for the future. I think instilling change takes time, but it begins with small steps together. Answers are never easy, but as teachers we must always try, reflect, and try again. That is the beauty of teaching. Below are some video clips of our field trip in building robots. Today’s field trip was reinvigorating for me and reminded me why I chose the teaching profession. I love working with students, and I want to help them make an impact and to make an impact on their lives. My goal is to help them see their potential and their potential of helping the world be a better place.