I sat in the teacher's lounge the other day talking to a group of newer teachers. They were talking about trying to find ideas for a new curricular piece that they were working on. I asked if they had heard of different sites to use for ideas and modeling. They had not. Surprised, I asked them what resources they were given in their teacher prep programs that they could take with them in their "virtual toolbox" to use in the classroom. They looked at me puzzled..
"Well... I know about theory," one said.
"I know how to use Google and look things up," said another.
While learning about theory and developing the skills to research online materials are important for teachers in training, I couldn't help but wonder what my colleague's professors taught them in their teacher training. Never in my 29 years of teaching did I stop where education theory left off when confronted with something in the classroom that the textbook didn't prepare me for.
What other tools are we giving our teachers as they leave our teacher prep programs and step foot into their own classrooms to begin their careers and navigate classrooms?
We are lucky to be in this incredibly fast moving, fast growing tech world. However, are we adequately preparing our teachers to teach their students how to use tech for learning? Are we giving our new teachers that background? Are we connecting them to other teachers across the country for support, for modeling and for collaboration?
We know that teaching for the 21st century offers unprecedented opportunities for instruction and student learning, but teacher preparation at times seems to be stuck in the 19th century. Teachers today need to update their virtual toolboxes. So, I end with a call to action. I'm asking teacher educators, and veteran and new teachers alike, to share your top tools that you use to do your job effectively. Here are some of mine: Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and the Teaching Channel. Tweet @PathtoTeach to share yours!
"If you only have a hammer in your toolbox then you tend to see everything as a nail."