As we are approaching the end of the semester, you are encouraged to look back/reflect on what you have learned from the course, and look forward to thinking how to transfer your learning from this course into your current real life situations and future teaching practices.
In this course, we have explored various topics and big ideas on educational technology and design. One of the topics and big ideas is related to the framework of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) that identifies the knowledge base that teachers need to teach pedagogically and effectively with technology.
The other topic is related to the Framework of 21st Century Learning, which "presents a holistic view of 21st century teaching and learning that discretely focusing on 21st century student outcomes". Please visit the website of Partnership for 21st Century Skills to know more about this topic.
21st Century Learning requires teachers and students to transform their classroom teaching and learning. Please watch the following video: Technology, the New Pedagogy, and Flipped Teaching, presented by Dr. Michael Fullan, who is an advocate and well-known researcher on the topic of teachers as change agents:
"What should a 21st century teacher be?" Please read the blog: 15 Characteristics of a 21st Century Teacher and see whether you are ready to be a 21st century teacher.
In addition to being a 21st century teacher, you need to become a change agent in your school. Please answer the questions: Are You a Change Agent? 10 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself - Please think deeply about these questions on initiating change.
You may wonder: "I only want to become a classroom teacher, why should I bother to become a change agent in my school?"
In a classic article on Why Teachers Must Become Change Agents, Michael Fullan (1993) argued that there is an increasing recognition that teachers are on the front lines of educational reform, and therefore teachers must become change agents in their classrooms and schools, because “teachers' capacities to deal with change, learn from it, and help students learn from it will be critical for the future development of societies." He outlined four core capacities of a change agent: Personal vision-building, Inquiry, Mastery, and Collaboration. These four capacities can serve as most comprehensive lenses to analyze and measure whether teachers become change agents.
"How can I become a change agent?" maybe your next question.
Edwards (2007) proposes that teacher preparation programs should encourage and support preservice teachers to share their existing expertise—their strengths— in the interpretations of problem spaces to construct their individual agency. Therefore, preservice teachers’ capacity to work with others and to negotiate meanings should be seen as valuable strength, and not a weakness.
Liesveld, Miller and Robison (2005) defined “a strength as a combination of natural ability, education and training that produced consistent, near-perfect performance in a specific task” (p. 57). In their book, Teaching with your Strengths: How Great Teachers Inspire their students, the authors show teachers how to avoid the pitfalls that lead to mediocrity, and work best with what they have--discover and capitalize on their strengths.
Your last question may be: "Is it possible for me to become a change agent as a novice teacher?" The answer is "Yes!" The Positive Psychology provides a new insight about discovering and capitalizing on one's strengths.
Watch Shawn Achor's TED speech: "Happy Secrets for Better Life." The message that you can get from this video is that we need to have right mindset to look for positive things in our environment to alter the constant stream of negative self talk and fear based appraisals in such a way that we can become successful in our life by building on our strengths.
You can tap on your tech-savvy strength and become a change agent in your school. The research shows that beginning teachers can develop teacher leadership potential from their strength-based practice. (You only need to read the abstract of the paper):
Among the ten preservice teachers, "three stood out from the rest in their effort to use information technology in student-centered teaching approaches and translating their constructivist orientation learned from the university into classroom practice. They began to develop leadership potential to influence their university peers and their cooperating teachers during their ten-week period of student teaching. During their first year of teaching, they continued to develop their leadership potential for technology integration by teaching with their ‘technology savvy’ strengths, leading their colleagues in school-wide technology initiatives, and supporting other beginning teachers. This study suggests that beginning teachers can learn to teach with information technology and lead in technology integration at the beginning stage of teacher development."
We are very sure that you will become a change agent for technology integration in your school placements both at UNI and in your future school. We are looking forward to hearing from you about your successful stories.