In Ontario, Canada, we are facing declining enrollment and as a result, there are less teachers entering the profession. One possible strategy to deal with the decline is a proposal from the Liberal party of Ontario to change teacher accreditation from one year to two years (more info). But what about those teachers who are fortunate to be starting in a school this year and are looking forward to applying their skills in the profession that they have dreamed of joining?
What is an iTeacher? New teachers joining the profession are iTeachers - many of them are part of the digital generation in our schools. Others bring experience from other fields outside of education where social networking, professional learning networks, and everything digital is a means of good business and staying in touch with "clients".
5 Tips for iTeachers:
1. Relationships Trump Technology
Start each class by greeting your students at the door, and getting to know them. Know their interests, know their strengths and weaknesses, and know them as a person first, and a student second.
2. Avoid the Myth
All students are different. You know this from dealing with your own family members. Remember that just because a student knows how to use Facebook or has a Tumblr account, this doesn't mean they know how to use technology for educational purposes. Avoid the myth that all students are adept at using technology.
3. Use Multiple Means of Communication
Look for opportunities to connect with your students. Not all students have the discipline to succeed in an eLearning environment. Look for Blended Learning opportunities where face to face interaction is complemented with digital resources and digital access to review class activities. All students will benefit from structure and reminders - but some will be able to use Google Calendar on a laptop to stay on track, while others will benefit from using an App on an iPhone or iPad while others will benefit from writing things down in their agenda book. Personalized Learning also requires personalized means of communicating.
4. Use the Tools available to You
Whether you have access to an Interactive WhiteBoard, an LCD projector, laptops, netbooks, tablets, student response systems, document cameras, and so on, remember that the technology is not what creates a 21st Century Learning Environment - the teaching does! 21st Century teaching means focusing on higher order thinking skills including: creativity, collaboration, problem solving, and communication (more).
5. Expand your Professional Learning Network
Look beyond your classroom, beyond your school, beyond your district, and even outside your province or state, and country. Professionals around the world are connecting and sharing research based practices.
A few of the many places to start: Educators on Twitter, Educators on Skype, Classroom 2.0, Get Ideas, Education Web and Edutopia.
There is lots more to being an effective teacher, but these five tips along with continued professional growth will help iTeachers meet the needs of today's iGeneration of Learners.