The world is changing, kids are changing, schools are inevitably changing too. Technological innovations are commonplace, one after the other. So much learning is available online and through learning systems created by billion dollar corporations. Through all this change, we still have the teacher in the classroom helping students reach their potential. There seems to be a fear that technology will displace teachers for the classroom as budgets shrink. With all this change, is the teacher still needed? After an experience today, I am happy to say YES!
Today I was facilitating a web conferenced math class with 5th grade students connecting to a middle school pre algrebra class. The students could see and hear the teacher through a web camera, see the writing on the SMARTBoard, and could participate through an IM chat and by talking through their microphone. The middle school students could see their 5th grade classmates on the SMARTBoard. So in essense, we had created a real classroom environment for these 5th graders.
All the technology made this experience possible but it would be nothing without the dedication of the teacher. Mr. Kennedy did a great job engaging his distance learners the best that he could without them being physically there and I think this will improve as both parties become more comfortable with the format.
But I still have this lingering question...would these students be better off with a teacher in their location? Every day when I walk into classrooms, I see teachers having those personal conversations that emotionally connect with students. I see the one on one help they provide when a student is struggling. The human connection just cannot be replaced by technology.
So for all my teacher friends who already started school, started school today, or will be starting in the future, THANK YOU for all that you do for our students. No matter what technological advances come in the future, nothing can replace the human connection you provide to our students.
Thank you and have a great school year!