How I’m Reimagining My Classroom This Year
You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way educators teach and how students learn.
When I think about this generation of students compared to those I’ve taught in the past, I see that interaction has taken on a whole new form outside of meeting face-to-face. Social media platforms like Snapchat and Discord have introduced kids and teenagers to virtual communities where they are spending a lot of time and focus.
And if today’s students are using these digital platforms anyway, we as teachers must ask ourselves, how can we introduce new ways of learning in the classroom, leveraging the technology and the digital skills that students already have?
In my classroom, I’m adjusting my teaching style to reach my Gen Z students by combining traditional methods of teaching alongside the technology that’s available. This could mean using pen-and-paper and having lengthy in-person class discussions, alongside audio and video, to teach lessons and complete work.
We’re seeing more non-traditional learners in the classroom and to know what sticks, we need to test out what works best. Trying new things like filming lessons so students can re-watch and learn on their own time on YouTube for example, has allowed them to come back with a deeper understanding. Some have even watched with their families! That is the power of video.
In terms of specific technology, I would not be as confident as I am today in the classroom without Microsoft tools. These tools support teachers from an organizational and planning standpoint, giving us the independence to conduct our classes seamlessly (this of course was especially true during the height of the pandemic).
For example, Microsoft Teams and OneNote are now my favourite apps in and out of the classroom. With Teams, students are able to contact me after hours when needed. It’s not uncommon to answer a question in the evening or even teach an impromptu lesson to a group of students after class. With OneNote, I can easily share feedback on assignments and send audio notes for them to hear my comments if that suits them better.
While there’s been a lot of perceived negatives surrounding the tech students use today in terms of social media, I believe that the future is very bright for this tech-savvy generation. Students are adapting to a whole new way of learning and have access to all kinds of tech and resources. So, why not harness what’s already out there to help them succeed?