While I've enjoyed every one of the Ed Tech classes over the past three semesters, I think our class this week may have been one of favourites. While it may not have been as flashy or engaging as some of the previous classes, I enjoyed this particular class (as well as writing this post) because it led me down a path of self reflection. If I'm being honest, I haven't thought about theories of knowledge or learning since my undergrad when we first learned about them. Taking the time to go through each of these theories, was quite refreshing as it enabled me to critically evaluate the type of educator I am.
What Type of Educator Was I?
As Alec, took us on the tour of Knowledge Theories, I immediately connected with the Behaviourist theory of learning. While this may not be the theory that I would align myself with anymore, it definitely would fit with the teacher I was nine years ago in my first year of teaching. Looking back, I utilized this theory in everything I did as a first-year educator - especially classroom management. I was definitely of the mindset that my role as an educator was to fill my students with the knowledge, and as a result, I did "deliver" more lessons to my students, than actually "experience" the learning with them. This was probably most evident in my Math lessons as I was very concerned with how to produce the desired results (right answers) from my students, than anything else. As a result, the delivery of my lessons reflected this and I can't imagine they were the most engaging lessons for my students.
In addition to utilizing the behaviourist theory for curricular means, I also found myself gravitating to this model for classroom management as well. While I still believe that the behaviourist theory fits in this domain today, I think I approached it a little differently in the past than I do now. In the early stages of my career, I remember using tools like Class Dojo and other behaviour tools to help achieve the desired positive behaviour in my classroom. Essentially awarding points for positive behaviours, and withdrawing for negative ones. As I will talk about a little later - I learned that this particular method wasn't the best (especially the withdrawals for negatives) and moved away from Class Dojo and other similar models quite quickly, and shifted towards a more proactive practice instead of a reactive one.
Where Am I Now?
Jumping to the present, I believe that I have certainly changed in many ways since my first year of teaching. I understand that my beliefs and style have certainly shifted due to a combination of my experiences in the classroom, great mentors, and fellow colleagues. As I mentioned earlier, at the onset of my career I would definitely have classified myself as a Behaviouralist, but now I'm not sure if I would classify myself in only one of the theories. After examining a plethora of theories in Tuesday's class, it's become apparent that my current teaching practice has changed and now reflects a combination of theories as opposed to one singular belief.
1) Experiential Learning
This learning theory is definitely one that I see the most reflected in my classroom and a major part of my belief as an educator. As Lisa expertly mentioned in her post this week, experiential learning is very relationship-centered and these experiences with others can be "the most meaningful learning tool". I definitely agree with Lisa as I firmly believe that in order for learning to occur, students need to feel safe, comfortable, and connected to their teacher and classmates. As a result, much of my learning opportunities provide the students with the ability to communicate, collaborate form relationships with one another while they are learning.
I also believe that students need to feel engaged with the content of their learning, and a "hands-on" approach can be an incredible support to help students connect with the course content. A number of years ago, I remember having a discussion with Trevor, (and current classmate of ours) who was a colleague of mine, regarding my Science lesson from the day. I was disheartened and a little burned out because my students just weren't connecting with the content I was trying to teach them, and as a result, was dealing with disengaged students. Trevor, an energetic young teacher who was fresh out of university at the time, shared some great wisdom with me - it might be helpful if I used a more "hands-on", experiential approach with the content. While I never felt that I was a boring teacher, it was apparent that the method I was utilizing may have worked for a number of years prior, just wasn't cutting it anymore. Trevor gave me some great ideas for this lesson, which in turn, inspired me to reflect on my current practices, and ultimately led me to a more experiential teaching practice. To this day, I still credit Trevor for rejuvenating my teaching practices and helping me to become the educator I am today.
While I would certainly say that Experiential Learning is the largest theory that impacts my current teaching practice, it's evident that I've also got some sprinkles of cognitivism in there as well. As was explained in the article "Description of Cognitivism" by Mohammed Rhalmi, the learning process for this theory views students as "active participants in the learning process" and not just minds to be "filled with knowledge". Not only does this idea also connect with some of the fundamental beliefs of Experientialism, but it also outlines the idea that students are not tied to one strategy for learning, but may use various ones to "construct their personal understanding".
Even though I've shifted away from this particular theory, it's still clear to me that Behaviorism does have a place within my teaching practice - it's just far less prevalent than it was ten years ago. In the present, it's clear that while not utilized for curricular purposes, behaviourism still plays a major role in my classroom, more specifically, for classroom management and procedures. As I mentioned earlier, in the past I used this approach in my classroom through the addition and subtraction of points to help achieve the desired behaviours in my classroom. However, this approach was far more reactive than proactive, which is the best way to describe how my utilization of behaviourism has shifted. Instead of using this reactive method, my focus is now on highlighting and using behaviour specific praise for the positive behaviours within my classroom.
For this, I utilize our school-wide SWPBIS (School-Wide Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports) framework to highlight the specific positive behaviour that the student demonstrated. ex. "Thank you for showing respect holding the door open for your classmates". Staff all have tickets that can then be handed out to the student when they notice one of these positive behaviours, which in turn, are entered for a school-wide draw at the start of each week. While it could be argued that we are just bribing the students, I far prefer this method as you don't need to hand out tickets every time, as the goal of this strategy to use behaviour specific praise when we see these positive behaviours. This has also helped me as a teacher, in changing the way that I view behaviour in our school. Rather than only addressing the negative behaviours I see, I am now routinely looking and identifying the positive ones far more often.
Overall, I found it quite interesting to reflect and see how my teaching practices have changed over the last ten years. It also makes me wonder, if I changed this much in the first third of my career, what will my teaching practices look like in another ten or twenty years? Will the change or stay the same? I guess only time will tell. Check back in the year 2040 for my next update!
As I sat back this weekend reflecting on our previous class as well as a few of the readings, a famous quote by American astronomer Carl Saga came to mind - "You have to know the past to understand the present". While Carl may not have been referring to technology when he spoke these words, I feel that they definitely ring true when compared to this week's readings as well as education technology in general. Even though technology has evolved (and will continue to evolve) over time, it's still incredibly important to listen to what the past says to help guide our decisions in the present.
Although I definitely view myself as quite adept with the integration of ed-tech within my classroom, this week's readings really left me with a lot to think about in regards to my own experience and practice in relation to educational technology. The first reading that really resonated with me was "Five Things We Need To Know About Technological Change" by Neil Postman. In this article, Postman describes five main ideas to consider when utilizing new technology, and while the article may have been written 22 years ago, so much of what is described needs to be remembered in the present.
1. "Culture Always Pays a Price for Technology"
While the notion of "paying the price" may sound a little harsh, the reality that Postman describes is that "for every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage". When comparing that to the present, it definitely makes a lot of sense when deciding what technology educators want to use within their classrooms. For example, student BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) definitely provides many educational opportunities to students within a classroom setting, such as alleviating the stress on shared devices within a school or providing students with more creative ways to demonstrate their learning. However, the inclusion of these devices also opens the door for possible negative consequences such as student distraction, cyberbullying, and privacy issues.
With this in mind, as educators, we need to take the time to do our "due diligence" when integrating new technologies within our classroom and ensure that the advantages of the technology outweigh the disadvantages.
2. "There Are Always Winners and Losers in Technological Change"
Two key understandings that I took from this idea is the notion that regardless of the technology, it is never distributed evenly among the population and also benefits some but may harm others. Unfortunately, this idea became glaringly obvious during the COVID19 lockdown as the size of the technological gap was exposed when schools tried to shift to a distance learning model. While many students who had the technology at home benefitted greatly from this type of learning, those who didn't have access to the devices (or internet) were initially unable to participate. Thankfully in many cases, school divisions were able to lend out technology to those students and families who needed it, but it highlighted a major problem in our society that had been swept under the rug for many years.
As an educator, I've had to do my legwork in this area to ensure the ways that I'm utilizing technology will be fair and equitable for all my students. One example of this would be my use of the Flipped Classroom when teaching Math. For this to work, I need to ensure all my students have access to technology and the internet at home, otherwise, the entire model wouldn't work as some students would be unable to learn the key concepts for the following day. While I haven't come across this situation yet, but if I do, I would need to transition back into a more traditional model of teaching Math for that school year.
A Screenshot from my Flipped Math Website:
3. "The Medium is the Message"
Postman further explains that "every technology has a philosophy which is given expression in how the technology makes people use their minds, in what it makes us do with our bodies, in how it codifies the world, in which of our senses it amplifies, in which of our emotional and intellectual tendencies it disregards". As I read this statement, I immediately drew comparisons between Postmans third idea and the SAMR Model. The notion that it's less about what technology we're using, and more about how it's being used and the benefits it can have on the individual. For example, providing students with a word document to write a response simply substitutes technology instead of a pencil and paper. However utilizing a blog that allows students to embed video, audio, and connect with others online provides them to use more of their "minds", be more creative and utilize the technology to create something that wasn't previously possible.
4. "Technology Change is Not Additive, It's Ecological"
My main takeaway from this idea is that new technology typically transforms the current climate where it is integrated. One example Postman uses is the television in America, and as he explains "It wasn't America plus the television, television gave a new colouration to everything", so essentially, everything changed as a result of this new technology. When I compared this idea to my own life, it reminded me of computers in the classroom, but more specifically the 1-1 environment that I've had the good fortune to teach in over the past five years. As a Connected Educator participant, I can firmly say that my classroom didn't just become a typical room with the addition of computers, but instead transformed into a Connected Educator Classroom. Having these readily available devices for my students has not only changed the way that I teach but also the ways that my students can demonstrate their learning.
Overall, I believe that Postman was way ahead of his time when he created these five main ideas regarding new technology. However, when we examine each of these in detail it becomes glaringly obvious that they couldn't be more relevant in today's world. As educators, we have a responsibility to review each of these ideas before making a decision to implement new technology within our classrooms.
Hello and welcome to my blog for EC&I 833! My name is Matt Bresciani and I am a Middle Years Teacher at St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Regina, Saskatchewan. While my primary assignment over the past eight years has been Grade 7/8, I've also had the opportunity to teach a variety of subjects in some of the lower grades as well. These experiences have allowed me to work outside my comfort zone and realize the curriculum connections that exist for students in primary to middle years. I enjoy learning new curriculums and discovering ways to creatively implement them in different classroom scenarios.
Technology has been a major part of my educational journey - which began with All the Right Type and Hot Dog Stand in my primary years, iMovie and Adobe Photoshop in High School, followed by the many educational apps that I learned about during my time in ECMP 355 at the University of Regina. As an educator, I understand that technology is an incredibly important tool that we can utilize to both engage our students and enhance their learning, but should never be used as a means to replace learning. I've been very fortunate to be a part of the Connected Educator Project in Regina Catholic Schools since its inception four years ago. Essentially as a participant in this project, my classroom is a one-to-one environment with each student having access to their own laptop supplied by the division. This project has provided so many opportunities for growth, not only for my students but for myself professionally, as I am continuously learning new ways to integrate technology into my pedagogy.
I'm very excited for the format of this class, as I'm looking forward to exploring the history of different technologies as well as the theoretical applications of technology within education. I look forward to learning with all of you as we navigate this journey together!