By Professor Tricia Lasto.
The typical classroom is much different from what it was when I began my teaching career. Today, the focus is centered on technology, data, and assessment. A teacher’s day is spent analyzing data, attending data team meetings, and looking at numbers. Inevitably, the question is asked, “How can we increase this student’s achievement?” Attention is turned immediately toward looking at ways to modify the curriculum: intervention programs are investigated, the use of technology is pushed to the forefront of the discussions, Core Standards are analyzed, more assessments are needed, Tier movement is considered, and all the “experts” have ideas.
I watch how children interact in today’s ever-changing world. Children of the 21st Century are very tech savvy. They can find Apps to learn about any topic in which they are interested, download their favorite author’s newest release in the blink of an eye, and navigate the Smart Board without hesitation. Children communicate by texting, Instagramming, or Snapchatting rather than speaking to each other.
All this is a sign of the times. Teachers are using data and technology to effectively increase student achievement and close gaps. Students are broadening their depth and breadth of knowledge by using the latest and greatest devices. So, what is missing?
Last week, I was reminded about the power of human interactions. A teacher who makes a personal connection with a student can change that student’s path. Teachers need to remember to make an effort to form a bond with every student in their class. Ask them what their hopes are, find out what they are nervous about, tell them that you BELIEVE in them, and include them in the decisions you make for their academic programs. I saw an anxious, shy, disengaged student turn into a motivated, confident, active learner just because a teacher sat him down and told him she cared and she BELIEVED in him.
The advances in our profession have been amazingly beneficial to the 21st Century learner, but nothing can replace the personal connection formed between a teacher and a student.