Students today need to know that they can be successful in school and in life. Helping them discover what they’re good at and allowing that talent to bloom is our responsibility as educators. Often, just providing them the confidence needed to give them the extra little push towards success is all it takes to change their life. Being a Fine Arts teacher for 18 years, I make sure to find the right activities that allow for the most success. Or, when they are struggling, find something to point out that may be unique or different than anyone else. Having an after school drama club, I’ve been able to create those “shining” opportunities for all my students by allowing them to be in front of the spotlight as actors, or behind the scenes as lighting or audio crew, work with costumes, props, and more. There’s a place for EVERYONE. What I’ve discovered in the theatre program I created is that there really can be a place for EVERYONE. I think every student wants to be a part of something that will make them feel special. I’ve had students that get into trouble in their classes, but finding what they can excel in, such as working with lighting, can be what changes their outlook on life.
Digital Learning in A Post Pandemic World
Learning has changed drastically since I was a student. Today’s students need technology integrated into every aspect of their learning. Teachers had to quickly jump onto this runaway train during the Pandemic, learning skills here and there, but expert of none. As educators, we need to be at the forefront of the latest technology that can help our students learn. There are still teachers holding on to the old ways of teaching, thinking that it still works. But the truth is, its NOT working anymore, or providing the same outcomes. My innovation plan, integrating ePortfolios into the classroom experience, will allow students many opportunities to use technology as a tool and independence on how they learn. Our students need to be prepared for the future, and ePortfolios are essential to display skills learned, talents, reflection, and personal creativity. Being able to begin their ePortfolio journeys in elementary, and continuing throughout their education, will create new opportunities, open doors to fulfilling their goals.
The Problem With Education Today
Teachers are still struggling with the strains of passing that standardized test. I’ve seen teachers preparing their class for pretests, benchmarks, quarterly tests, all to prepare for that end of year test. Teachers are so busy trying to fly through expectations that they are leaving little to no room for authentic learning opportunities. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the high demands set upon teachers today. After the Pandemic, you would think things would get better, administrators talking about SEL, but it is worse than before. Teachers are leaving the profession at a shocking rate. This year alone, I’ve seen several really good teachers driven out of the profession because they could do it no longer. It’s something that needs to get better fast, or we’re in for some serious educational problems in the future.
How Can We Improve the Digital Learning Experience
Our district introduced Project Based Learning this year as well as the 17 sustainable goals from the United Nations. We have the opportunity to provide students with that authentic learning we used to have in education. Through PBL and the 17 sustainable goals, we can connect learning to real life situations and provide students challenging and engaging projects that require them to find solutions to problems, all while developing skills and knowledge. ePortfolios will play an important role in this new district initiative. Students will be able to post their learning throughout their PBL, and allow them to record the steps they take to arrive at their solution. It will also give them the chance to reflect on what and how they did on projects and easily view their growth. Years ago, I was chosen to pilot a simple blog integration into my classroom. I would post onto my blog, then students were able to reply and give their feedback on the topic. It was an incredible way to get students’ honest and real thoughts, allowing me to plan accordingly. This pilot program has grown and developed into what we will be integrating soon with ePortfolios.