Thursday, March 4, 2010

You know you're teaching in the 21st century when...

My son was out last Friday, and asked if I could stay home with him; since he rarely asks me to do that when he's not feeling well, I decided to honor his request.

The interesting thing about the whole process was how the whole day was set up. I put in for the sub via a website, then sent a text messages to colleagues on my team notifying them that I would be out and was going to email them the lesson plans for the day.  I wrote out the lesson plans and emailed them out. Since the Theory of Knowledge class is so seminar based, I set up a class discussion about the meaning of history on CoverItLive and class continued as normal.

This definitely has some interesting potential for education and how it is delivered. There are an increasing number of online programs and sites available where teachers can post and deliver instruction online. However, there is much to be said for face to face interaction, especially when it comes to delivering instruction. While it did enable me to continue instruction on a day when I was out, I would not want to give up the spontaneity and energy of actually being in a classroom, interacting on a more personal and intimate level. Human relationships are affected by online interactions, and I definitely don't think the class would have gone as well had I not previously built those unique relationships via classroom instruction and the simple human interaction that comes from teaching. The idea that teachers are far more than simple deliverers of material isn't exactly a news flash: the duties and responsibilities of an educator go far, far beyond that of simple subject matter... and these "soft skills" that don't get measured on any standardized test are just as important, if not more so, to the development of a student and to their success (or failure) as an adult.

As a supplement to classroom instruction or as an adjunct to instruction on days when a teacher is out but has access to technology, online discussions are the way to go... but as an acceptable substitute for instruction? Never. Education is far more important than that.