Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sharing: A Waste of Time?

I recently watched a video with the message "teaching is sharing" produced by an in-service teacher named Dean Shareski (ironic that his last name matches his message!). Before watching the video, I had the impression that this would be just another teacher talking about another responsibility that I, as a teacher, would not have time to do. According to this perspective, not only would I need to get through the entire curriculum in an awful short period of time, I would need to share my teaching practices with the world. This would mean taking up one thing I would not have, time. However, much to my surprise, the sharing perspective of Shareski has changed the way I've thought about sharing as part of my job as an educator.

While it may seem I'm going a bit off track here, let me lead you through the thought process of what “teaching is sharing" has clarified for me. One of the observations I've made while on my student teaching placements is that in classrooms today, many of the ideas, technologies, and ways of delivering lessons are the same as when we were in school. Obviously, as we have been learning these last two years in the Faculty of Education, this is not the best way to teach. However, I think new teachers resort back to these traditional methods of delivering information, despite knowing there is a better way, because with all the new responsibilities, the last thing they have time for is piloting something totally different. For instance, if I am a new teacher and everyone in my PLN is using traditional delivery techniques, I will be tempted to do the same. This occurred all the time in my student teaching placement. The main resource in my PLN in each of my placements was my cooperating teacher. If he or she used the traditional information transmission mode of teaching, this is what I resorted to because this is the resources I had access to and this is what the students in my classes were familiar with. However, this creates a problem. Without people trying new ideas, change and educational reform will NEVER occur.

While this is thinking really big picture, I believe Gandhi said it best. "Be the change you want to see in the world." However, he did not say you had to do it by yourself and I believe this is where the sharing comes in. Every teacher, either by intention or not, is part of a PLN. This means as teachers, we are being influenced by the people we correspond with on a daily basis. The benefit of  being part of a PLN is that if done intentionally, we can be influenced and share ideas with a group of professionals that are all working toward creating innovative classrooms that seek out to implement a classroom where students learn to their full potential. However, if we expect to gain from this PLN, this also means that we must contribute to this new community. As teachers, we can all pilot small things and share the results with everyone that is part of our PLN, whether these ideas work or not. We all agree that students need more opportunities to work on authentic tasks in authentic ways using new and authentic technologies. However, we can't expect to implement total education reform without knowing how it looks. Hopefully by implementing a couple of things in our classrooms, and then sharing the results and receiving feedback and other new ideas from our PLN, together we can create the education reform that we know will work in our changing world. Change does not happen over night. It happens in small steps, taking ideas from those around us, modifying them to suit our environment and situation, and then sharing the results so others, our students in this case, can benefit.

So going back to my preconceived notion that sharing is a waste of my precious time as a teacher. This idea is faulty because sharing will actually save me time. By connecting with my intentionally chosen PLN, I will gain much more insight than I can ever contribute. Furthermore, an ever changing world and an adapting PLN will also produce ever changing and authentic ideas for classroom use that will engage students, thus minimizing classroom management issues, and saving time.

For more information on the idea of teaching is sharing see the video below. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

Blair said...

Some interesting points here. I was reading the blog of Darren Kuropatwa who will be our guest speaker tommorrow. Darren is a teacher at Myles Mac in Winnipeg. He shared how his students summarize their learning through blogging. I think this could be the solution to your time problem.

Perhaps you could incorporate your students learning into sharing with others?? Obviously you will have to model for your students to get them going, but once everything is in place I think it could work.

I definitely agree that we only have so much time and we need to find ways to use our time efficiently. Hopefully we will figure it out before a nervous breakdown our first year in the classroom!!