Digital Learning Mission Statement:
My mission as a digital education leader is to make sure that my students have access to digital tools in order to provide opportunities for students that inspire creativity, problem solving, authentic learning experiences, and promote collaboration with others in a safe environment.
Three Guiding Principles:
- On-Going Professional Development
- Be Intentional
- Teach Empathy Through the Lens of Digital Citizenship (Do No Harm)
Background (Why I entered the program):
I have been teaching in an elementary setting for the past 14 years. It has been the joy of my life working with my students. As the years have passed and I have moved up in the grades (I have taught 6th grade for the past 4 years) I have noticed that students are getting burned out with the constant testing mindset. I have students that are reading at a K-2nd grade level that are expected to perform as if they are on grade level. I’ve noticed the number of student’s engagement level dwindle.
I have tried to address this in my class by adding in opportunities for coding, writing letters to real people, bringing in guest speakers, teaching an aviation unit where students get to design, build, and test a plane, and instilling a maker’s mindset to my class. I have noticed students come alive and get excited about coming to school. Students are coding responses or stories, instead of writing them in the traditional way. After kids read stories, they write to the author to ask them questions or tell them how they have been inspired. Since we have been researching careers and writing to real-life professionals, we have had quite a few come to our school to give talks to the entire 6th grade. We have created several projects for our (now defunct) Tech Expo, that represented the curriculum that we were learning in class that involved coding, stop-motion animation, and electronics. Students that are newcomers to this country have found success in designing and building planes. In fact, the past three years we have had ELL students win the competition.
None of these experiences are in our district-approved curriculum and for the past few years my principal has asked me to stop spending time doing this in class because the testing scores are not improving. So- I have stopped taking class time and instead have students come before school or after school to learn how to code, create art, or work in a makerspace environment. The unfortunate truth is that not all students can access these opportunities because of transportation.
These are some of the reasons why I have enrolled into this program. I want to be able to advocate for digital education in the classroom and express to the administration how important it is for the students. Connecting with the materials taught in the Digital Education Leadership program, I want to become a resource for my students and fellow educators at my school.
Guiding Principle #1- On-going Professional Development (ISTE Coaching Standard 4 and 6)
ISTE Coaching Standards explains how professional development helps deepen teacher content knowledge and improves teacher pedagogical skills, which increases student learning. (4c) It has been through P.D. that I have developed skills to curate lesson plans that engage students more than they have in the past. For example, I participated in a professional development class on alternative presentation skills from the Museum of Pop Culture. From that, I implemented a new project where instead of traditional book reports, students record book commercials, selling their book. This project has increased engagement, with students taking more pride in their work and led them to being more thoughtful in their reading, and their presentation of the book. Seeking out professional development opportunities has been and will continue to be a focus in my teaching practice.
Guiding Principle #2- Be Intentional (ISTE Coaching Standard 2)
Teaching is the intentional act of creating those conditions, and good teaching requires that we understand the inner sources of both the intent and the act. (Palmer pg. 7) In order to be an intentional teacher, you must consider the abilities of your students, create engaging lessons and scaffolds that will help your students fulfill the learning target, and guide students to make connections with their learning. (McREL.org) One way students can make connections to their learning is by working on a project utilizing technology. “Technology can help students assume professional roles, research real-world problems, collaborate with others, and produce products that are meaningful and useful to a wide audience.” (ISTE Coaching Standards 2c)
Guiding Principle #3- Teach Empathy Through the Lens of Digital Citizenship (Do No Harm) (ISTE Coaching Standard 5)
Technology and social networks can provide a phenomenal avenue for communication and building student/educator relationships. (Ribble, p. 137) This is one of the reasons that I am excited to implement blogs, utilize more fully my Edmodo account, and continue seeking opportunities to use technology in my classroom. But with these advancements, comes great responsibility. As an educator, I need to be aware of my student’s developmental stages. According to James, “egocentrism often characterizes the adolescent and emerging adulthood phases of development.” (p. 105) This is a time where young students often show a lack of empathy for others. It is important to teach students that what they do and say on-line has real consequences. I tell my students that they have the power to wreck someone’s day or worse, their life. In James’s research, she shares some pretty severe examples of how young people have made terrible choices in breaching other’s privacy resulting in physical harm and/or death. I realize that these are extreme examples and not the norm, however it puts in perspective how important teaching empathy through the lens of digital citizenship really is.
It will be my most important mission to teach digital citizenship to my students. I will “model and facilitate safe, healthy, legal, and ethical uses of digital information and technologies.” (ISTE Coaching Standards #5b) A system that I would like to adopt in my class that teaches Digital Citizenship comes from Ribble. He focuses on nine principles housed in three categories: Respect Yourself and Others, Educate Yourself and Others, and Protect Yourself and Others. These will help students learn how to properly communicate with each other and avoid technology misuse.
ISTE Standards for Coaches (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2018, from https://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-C_PDF.pdf
Intentional Teaching Inspires Intentional Learning (2017) Retrieved December 9, 2018, https://www.mcrel.org/intentional-teaching-inspires-intentional-learning/
Parker J. Palmer, The Heart of a Teacher. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life (San Francisco, Calif.: Josey-Bass, 2007): p 1-8
Carrie James, Disconnected: Youth, the New Media, and the Ethics Gap (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2014) p 101-122
Mike Ribble and Teresa Northern Miller, “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibility, Safely, and Ethically.” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): p 137-1450