I am a lifelong learner, and as most educators, I have always looked for ways to create learning experiences that will instill a passion for learning in my students. As the years have gone by, I have found that my “old tricks” no longer engage my students and have attributed their “disinterest” in learning to my lack of providing them with learning experiences that allow them to be creative. So this “old dog” decided it was time to learn some “new tricks.”
Since we are in the age of technology, I wanted to learn how to really incorporate technology into my curriculum. When my district adopted Canvas as our LMS I felt the need to learn how to most effectively use this platform to make students’ learning experiences more meaningful. I also wanted to share what I had learned with colleagues so that together we could create a “Canvas Culture” in our district that would benefit all students.
So, this “old dog” set out to learn “new tricks.” I attended several seminars, reached out to educators who were using Canvas, took some online training classes, and eventually was afforded the opportunity to become a member of the Digital Leadership Cadre at Pike High School. I have learned lots of “new tricks” – embedding content, formatting modules, creating meaningful lessons and inviting home pages, and using “cool” tools (Nearpod, Flipgrid, Quizziz, Plickers, Twitter, VoiceThread) to better engage students.
As the Digital Leadership Cadre draws to an end, however, I’ve come to the realization that it’s not the “new tricks” that will make the learning experience for students more meaningful. It’s whether or not this “old dog” can adopt an “innovator’s mindset “as discussed in George Couros’ book, The Innovator’s Mindset (2015). Am I willing to take risks, to model the learning that I seek in my students, to embrace change and try new things? Will I value all input no matter the source and allow students to share in my successes and failures? Will I encourage student-led learning by giving them “voice and choice?”
Yes, I’ve learned several “new tricks”, but in the end these will not make my students more engaged learners. It’s only when I allow them to be involved in helping to design their learning experience that they will truly discover a passion for learning.
Today's thoughts come to us from Mr. Jorge Garcia. Jorge was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is a Spanish teacher at Greenwood Community High School. This is his 21st year as an educator. He and his wife, Judy, and will be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary this June. She also is an educator and works for Avon High School as the Guidance Department Chair. They have 3 sons, Zach, Ethan, and Trey who are all out of high school. Jorge is an avid runner and has participated in various marathons and half marathons.