The future is here!

This school year promises to be something extraordinary.  Instead of another mind-numbing grind against the sandstone of content standards, state testing and student under-performance (and frustration all around), I am one of three educators who have been handed the great honor of delivering handpicked digital curriculum to our middle school students – and nothing but digital curriculum!

We get to sample from the wide world of that which is available, and have decided  to offer a mini-smorgasbord of projects.  From introductory coding lesson in Python, JavaScript, and HTML/CSS, to editing still photos in Adobe’s Creative Cloud; from animated storytelling on the web, to creating digital art in Geogebra; from creating mobile phone apps at MIT App Inventor to video production with WeVideo, we are set to offer our middle school students an unparalleled education in creating, exploring, and managing digital content.

My colleagues and I who are so fortunate to participate in this project know just enough (hopefully) to create structure for our students, and to craft a safe and fun environment for them to explore.  We all fully expect many students to quickly surpass our own knowledge in many of these areas as they explore – and there can be no more exciting thought as an educator.

This endeavor is requiring a paradigmatic shift in thinking and in my approach to teaching, but it is one that I am all too happy to attempt.  For far too long I feel like I have been a slave to the soul-crushing machinery of standards and testing, where the classroom was a space in which I struggled to survive emotionally amidst a sea of underachieving students who, it seemed, only cared less and less for the content that I was trying to “teach” them (mathematics) as the years rolled by.   But now I am being encouraged to try and to fail – and to let my students try and fail.  I am being encouraged to reach out, to try new things, try different things.  And, best of all, to not worry if it is not perfect.  I have my own demons, thank you very much, that already demand an exceedingly high level of performance from me, so it is such a relief to know that I can extend my own creativity on the job, and be trusted as a professional still to deliver high quality instruction (correction: educational opportunity) to my students.  🙂

 

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