Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Students, teach your teachers well...


     So, who knew? Who knew that as a teacher, I am the one who would receive quite an education from my students? I continue to receive education, awareness and new ideas from my students. How easy it is to forget that I am not twenty-three anymore; passing mirrors is a rather poignant and unforgiving reminder. Yet, these young minds, still focused on the future, their careers, defining who they are or who they think they should be...offer so much insight.
     My grade school teachers were all women, still in dresses and heels, big button earrings, and immovable hair. I loved them dearly. We learned to walk in straight lines, quietly; wash our hands thoroughly and take a most appropriate sip of water from the water fountain - one we all shared - do kids still do that? Hand-sanitizer? It would have sounded more like an operating room apparatus to us at the time. We played in the dirt. We listened to records. There was no air conditioning in the classrooms. Red was the ONLY color for grading papers. Everyone was a Christian. We prayed in class. A filmstrip was a major treat as was sitting all together in one huge class to watch some public television station show on science - all in black and white. But, it was cool. Yep, cool. Do my students say, "Cool"? I'm not sure.

     So, back to the point. My students, thirty years younger than I am, are the products of the computer age, the age of speed, technology, information in an instant, gratification in an instant; research across the world in seconds with citations provided or generated without an English Handbook. In last night's class, my students used, with absolute ease, video clips from the Internet; and a presentation app that allowed the student to manipulate information around the screen, bouncing from lists of material to photos to video clips, all within one application. I was amazed and challenged.

     Would I have selected such clips? Used such an application? I didn't know about the application at all. Thanks to these students. You make me ask questions, now that I am the older one. Do I want to use film strips, chalkboards, mimeographed materials, cassette recordings and transparencies? They are comfortable. I know them like old friends who haven't dusted themselves in years, but courtesy forbids such observance or mention.

     Last night's session was a kind slap in the face. Teaching students isn't just my knowing the "material." It is knowing my students as they are today. Their world is quite different from the one in which I started my journey. Maybe it's time to file away my map and use that GPS app. Thanks, class.

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