Change in education is not often welcomed with open arms. When changes happen, it is up to us as educators to adapt for the sake of our students.
I teach at a K-12 coeducational independent school. After using our former schedule for more than 40 years, we adopted a new daily schedule this year. The new routine has forced us to reexamine our curriculum. Fewer class meetings – with the same number of total minutes – required a new approach to teaching and learning.
No longer could I stand in front of the room and be the “sage on the stage.” My students don’t have that kind of attention span. In fact, most adults wouldn’t be able to handle a 55-minute lecture either; not to mention how exhausted I would be if I tried.
Knowing this change was coming, last spring I learned everything I could about SMART amp. I read every document available. I signed up for webinars. I consulted and collaborated with other teachers who were already using this software. I watched every YouTube video on this new SMART product because I knew it would help me be a more effective and efficient teacher with the longer class periods.
I couldn’t keep SMART amp to myself so I shared it with other teachers who are early-adopters. They got excited and used it in the last few months of the year. By the summer, word had gotten around. There was significant interest from teachers in grades 3-12 who wanted to learn more about SMART amp and how they could apply it in their classroom. With the support of our administration and educational technology specialists, several workshops were held over the summer. Teachers learned about this simple tool that has an infinite number of uses and applications.
By learning and working side-by-side, together we all learned more about what makes a teacher better:
- We don’t have to be an expert to try something new in class. It’s ok not to have all the answers. We should let our students help us problem solve. If students can help us learn and understand something, we are modeling the importance of being lifelong learners.
- SMART amp takes the teacher away from the center of learning and gives students the opportunity to become authors, creators, collaborators, critical thinkers, teachers, and learners. Learning this way is natural. Unlike in traditional settings, students have a worksheet and work independently to master new content. Students are natural collaborators. What they share, discuss, and explain to each other is sometimes more meaningful than what the teacher says.
- SMART amp helps make lessons more efficient because basic, but foundational information, can be included in a workspace for students to read and refer to, leaving more time in class for discussion, application, and synthesizing the content – leading to a deeper understanding.
- As we learned together over the summer, unintentionally, we created a learning community. We have continued to meet monthly during lunch or after school throughout the year to share the workspaces we have used, to solicit suggestions and feedback, and to continue to brainstorm other uses of SMART amp. Though I teach high school math, I have learned so much from my colleagues who teach in the Lower School and from those who teach English, history, science, and world languages.
Without a doubt, SMART amp has helped me become a better teacher. I have a more student-centered classroom. Students are actively engaged in learning. The biggest compliment is a student who said, “I actually understand what I’m doing.” This is the heart of what I do: helping students understand what they are learning and not simply become “doers” of mathematics.
Try SMART amp, part of SMART Learning Suite, today with your free trial.
- Real World Skills: Teaching Students for What’s Ahead - October 11, 2016
- Creating a Student-centered Classroom with Edtech - June 7, 2016
- A Day in the Life of an ‘Iolani Math Teacher - December 8, 2015