Friday, June 21, 2013

Google Certified Teacher Process Reflected Importance of Relationships in the Use of New Tools

The other day I was fortunate enough to be named a Google Certified Teacher.  I had applied twice before only to be rejected.  I very seriously considered not applying this time around, but I reconsidered when I began to more deeply review where I had been the last two years, let alone the last 15.
I realized that since I had moved to Minarets I had begun to find the right balance between new tools and old arts and that what I had begun to do was use the new tools to help learn who my students are and help them understand why they are in school.
Here is a link to my video, "Motivation and Learning Begin with Trust."
I used my video to help illustrate what I had learned since I moved to a 1:1 laptop classroom environment.
Whenever I had interviewed for jobs in the past, often I had been asked about the three R's, rigor, relevance, and relationships.  I had always felt that rigor and relevance were almost unspoken as they were why we were in school.  However, I had always put special emphasis on relationship as I had seen as a student and a teacher that when a relationship had been forged between the teacher and learner, any trouble getting through the rigor and relevance could almost always be overcome through the personal bond that had been created.
I always feel that trust is the bedrock of a strong relationship.  My latest, best example is illustrated by the creator of the "My Soundtrack" from my video.  Angry Girl, I'll call her, and I butted heads when we first worked together two years ago.  She didn't like me and I didn't like her because she didn't like me.  However, she did her work, ALWAYS.  She ALWAYS did it well, but she was an "angry girl" and I didn't know why she resisted me.  I tried to get her to understand that she could do it better, but she didn't want to listen to me.
She and I began to realize that neither was going to give.  She was going to continue to do good work and I was going to continue to evaluate her work and keep suggesting ways she could do better.  About halfway through our first year together we began to see what was going on and began to trust each other because we had realized that we weren't going to back down.
How was this relationship different because it's 2013?  We had used all sorts of great tools to truly individualize our learning and I had seen my student in many different lights and situations.  She had written her quick writes into her blog from internet articles and infographics.  She had created all sorts of different multimedia presentations to illustrate her ideas in US history, economics, government, and psychology.  She and I had also talked many times about her work and how I had evaluated it and how she felt about it.  Through all those different paths, we realized that we could trust each other to continue being the people we were and any time we ran into issues with the rigor or relevance we leaned on our trust and worked our way through the issues.
In the end, had I not been selected a Google Certified Teacher, I realized that I had gained through the reflective experience and that I had begun to develop a balance between the new tools and the old arts and I was looking to further advance my abilities in both areas.  I also realized anew how much I love guiding learners in that it's a constant process, but I also saw that I was not just using new tools, because they were new.  I was using new tools to advance the ancient art of guiding learners into new realms and that's truly awesome!

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