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Do Our Classrooms Look Different?

Here is an example of how Braxton's teacher, who has been teaching for decades, continues to meet learners in the Digital Age.

Here is an example of how Braxton's teacher, who has been teaching for decades, continues to meet the needs of learners today. With humor! My son loves the Dallas Cowboys, not the NY Giants like his teacher!

When I started teaching fifth grade in 2002, none of my students had a cell phone, they watched things like Lizzie Maguire and Sabrina the Teenage Witch on tv because youtube wasn't an option, and the only tablet they carried around was made of paper.

Today, most children aspire to be a youtube star, their way of socializing is playing against each other on Fortnite, and they have hundreds of images thrown at them daily on the phones they hold in their hands.

A lot has changed in 16 years. As a teacher, have I?

Today, their world consists of constant stimulus and visual excitement. They have anything they need to know at the tips of their fingers. They're able to ask a robot a question and get an answer.

The children that sit in our classrooms are vastly different than those children I first started teaching 16 years ago. In fact, technology has changed so rapidly over the last decade that my students today look different than even my students five years ago.

But how different do I look? Does my classroom look the same as it did 5 years ago? 15 years ago?

Our students today literally have a different brain than students 15 years ago. In fact, more has changed in our students' brains in the last 15 years (due to the Digital Revolution) than in the past hundreds. Yet, we are still trying to reach them the same.

I've found that the methods and strategies I have always used in teaching have had to drastically change and shift to meet the needs of the new learners. What was effective for my students five years ago is no longer as effective today.

No longer can our classrooms look like they have for decades. Many classrooms still look like they did in our one room schoolhouses when the children played with sticks and corndolls. Our students today do not respond to many of the methods we have always used. We have to change to meet the needs of our new learners.

It is a challenge to keep their attention, because how can I compete with the video games they are interacting with? It is a challenge to entertain them, because their humor and wishes have changed in this youtube era where they like to watch people play video games.

But I am called, as their teacher, to reach them. To reach them where they are. I am not charged to teach them like students have always been taught. I am charged to ignite a love of learning in a generation where they think all of the learning they need is at their fingertips.

How do we reach these learners? That is a whole other post. SUBSCRIBE for more to come. But, one thing you can focus on as you enter your classroom this week: Let them explore. Let them discuss. Let them use their hands. Let them move. Give them chances to be creative. Allow them chances to be innovative and inventive and funny.

Paper and pencil doesn't cut it anymore for these kids.