Making classrooms modern and teaching with the 21st Century in mind can be a daunting task, especially if you are a primary teacher. What does the shift for our digital native students look like, certainly when they are 5, 6 and 7? The last couple weeks have shown me that there are countless classic management pieces that are timeless for young students. For example: young students have to have VERY explicit guidelines, and practice them frequently; young students need to feel that they are a part of a community which holds them accountable; young students need to have a structure and routine that is solid and unchanging. Within these rituals, the great stuff can happen….without them, nothing will at all, and 21st Century teaching with all of its amazing tools is worthless.
This weekend I took 30 minutes to cruise the web, hoping find some phrases and thinking to guide me as I try to be an example of forward thinking for younger students. Recurring themes of global awareness, sharing, creating, and engagement started to emerge again and again. I know these are intertwined with the buzzwords of 21st century education, but these particular ones seemed to repeat in articles about young students and learning today.
I understand that all 21st Century students need to be a part of routines which produce content instead of continually consuming it and reacting to it passively. This goes along with my quest to not be the sole “giver” of knowledge for my kids this year. Also, it is clear that young students need to and can be connected to their world through technology. When they do this, they need to share their thinking, not only verbally, but through product sharing. As we study Tony Wagner and other current educational thinkers, ‘play’ enters into learning more than ever. My students need to and hopefully will connect, play and create with a determination and engaged focus to pursue the world and their unique passions.
It was interesting to study the synonyms for the word guide: counselor, mentor, model, pilot, adviser, attendant, conductor, design, convoy, chaperone, docent, exemplar, exhibitor, inspiration, monitor, pathfinder, usher.
My hope is to be a guide for my young students this year.