In high school, my teachers never cared about me – they didn’t care about any of us. They didn’t care how well I performed in class. They didn’t care if I was using the best available resources. They didn’t care what I was learning or if I was being challenged. They didn’t care about my success.
Of course, now I know this statement is not true. But it was my perception – and to a teenager, there is not much difference between perception and fact.
Then came college. Life was completely different. My professor’s actually cared. Maybe it was just the fact that I knew I could send them an email at two in the morning. Maybe it was because I could email them my assignments before the due date and they would make comments and send it back. Perhaps, it is because my college used an online Learning Management System where I could keep track of all my classes, assignments, and professors. Maybe it was because my professors “got me.”
Yea, I think that’s it. They “got me”…they really did. They knew I was too busy (and lazy) to want to print my assignments and turn them in - so I submitted them electronically. They knew I couldn’t sit through a two hour lecture without some sort of multi-media component – so they incorporated YouTube videos. They knew my schedule was way too busy to meet with a group of five students to complete a project – so we collaborated online. They knew my mind worked too fast to be content looking up information in a library – that’s what the internet is for. They knew the difference between a podcast and a vodcast and actually made these parts of my assignments.
They also knew that Wikipedia.org may not be the absolute best source for a term paper, but they used it in class, and often cited it! They knew history of the Renaissance would be Snooze Time 101 if we couldn’t open a browser and travel across the world to take a virtual tour of museums and artifacts.
I was so excited. My professors cared. School actually was cool. I immediately jumped on the phone to tell my folks how awesome this whole college thing was. I got my dad on the phone (who teaches 7th grade earth science) and asked him if he started using any of this stuff in his classroom. He had no clue what I was talking about or why I was so excited. Five years later, he still has no clue. Imagine how excited his 7th grade students would be if he would just use Google Earth to explore the world? Or listen to podcasts of astronauts as they describe the majestic sites they see from outer space? Dad, if you’re reading this… you still have 5 months until you retire, please just try it once! For me! For your students!