Again this week I was pretty active on Twitter trying to stay motivated and inspired during a VERY busy Homecoming week at my high school. I stumbled up on an older article from MindShift entitled "Teaching in the New (Abundant) Economy of Information" which helped me to renew my attitude toward modern teaching and learning.
My definition of a modern educator was easily summarized in part of the article as I phrased it in a tweet below:
Before my week was over, I had the chance to get additional training on Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching which we use in our district. To keep it brief, it was an onslaught of useful information which made me rethink my understanding of what 'good' teaching is. As I was at the training I received an email from a second year teacher who expressed that the honeymoon was over (we are approximately 5 weeks into the school year here in Michigan) and they were struggling to stay motivated as an educator as their students' focus and engagement were waning. I shared a few solid articles on teacher burnout and how to build a team in the classroom (HERE and HERE) and then left him with what I thought was a summary of a "Exemplary" or "Highly Effictive" teacher as MI puts it and what he should strive for.
Luckily, more and more modern colleges of education are starting to teach PBL and inquiry-based learning where the internalization and motivation for learning falls to the student and not the exhausted teacher. Burnout does not happen to a educator who plans authentic activities where students are motivated by the feedback and joy of impressing REAL LIFE PEOPLE in the public and not just their teacher. Educators who embrace asking students tough questions like, "How would the world be different if Adolf Hitler was never born?" (instead of "What year did WWII end?") and then letting their students delve into the messy research of sorting the answer out for themselves; don't burn out. Educators who let their students research and learn with peers and adults around the world through Google Hangout, Skype, Twitter or other electronic correspondence do not have to motivate students to ask their own questions or seek knowledge to round out what they are learning. We do have to facilitate these types of activities as educators but keeping a rolling train moving is much easier than one which doesn't even want to leave the station.
When the modern educator allows the joy of student driven, engaged learning in their classes they solve two problems:
1. They can break the chains of feeling responsible to grade everything and invent every moment that their class will encounter.
2. They can rest assured that the only thing that will burn out in their classroom will be that power strip plugged into that ungrounded outlet in the back of the room. (Which was probably installed the year WWII ended ... 1945 I think)