I just returned yesterday from the ISTE 2015 conference in Philadelphia. It was truly one of the most powerful experiences I have had and I am looking forward to next years conference in Denver.
One of the great takeaways that stuck with me was the idea that educators have the power to motivate and engage students everyday in the classroom. There are many great books and articles and websites that suggest many ways to engage and motivate students and I have read many of them. I find them very useful and inspiring and I use many of the techniques and strategies that are suggested. But the one thing that resonates with me is that it has to come from your heart. You have to believe it and you have to deliver it with the same engagement and motivation that you want your students to have. In every edchat, workshop or session I attended, each speaker was filled with passion for what they do. I never once thought to myself, I want to gouge my eyes out, I can’t wait until this is over. And believe me, I have been in those types of workshops too. Instead, I felt inspired, empowered and supported. I left with so many ideas to use in my classroom and I am excited to start next year. I am determined to do it with the mindset that I as an educator do have the power to engage and motivate my students in ways that will prepare them for the 21st century skills they will need to be successful.
I also reflected back on my year in the classroom and when I think of the times my students were excited to learn and were engaged in what they were doing, it often involved technology or some kind of hands on or collaborative project. They loved Skyping with other classes during the Global Read Aloud, they loved blogging on Kidblog, and they like Poetry Friday. Now, how can I take those ideas and make them even better? I can get excited about them. Be passionate when introducing the ideas to the students and parents. Ask the kids for their ideas and opinions. Share with other educators what is working and what isn’t working. I have connected with so many people, someone may have a better way to do something. Be flexible and have the courage to step out of my comfort zone. I know not everything I plan on using will be successful. But as I heard many times in the conference, FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning. We won’t know if something will work or what we need to do to make it better unless we just put ourselves out there and do it. I am committed to showing my students that our learning extends well beyond our classroom walls.
What are you willing to do as an educator to motivate and engage your students?