This week’s post has a slightly different approach: I wanted to talk about engagement, as it derives from the tasks we’ve being taking up this week, but due to the news that are constantly pouring out about the world situation and the scope things are taking, I am morally forced to give this post a layer of criticism embedded into a wrapping of sadness.
I was planning to talk about the importance of engagement in the dynamics of a class. New resources, new approaches and new methodologies are extremely relevant for a better teaching performance. But the real element that drives our students’ commitment and engagement is seeing the person in front of them truly believing in what he or she is doing. As I have mentioned in a comment in one of my posts, one of my best remembered teachers was an old literature teacher who would have us stuck into our chairs as he talked about the Spanish authors and their works. Just word and chalk!
If we really believe in what we do, in those projects we want to enrol our students, in those interchanges with schools across the world, in those plays and those sketches… our students will perceive our enthusiasm and they will get quickly engaged.
Moreover, we are the lucky ones to have this huge array of elements that help us “decorate” that passion we feel for our job (thanks, Luisa!). They will bridge the gap between us and those students eagerly looking for engagement in interesting things to fill their life most of the time so full of stimuli but so void of commitment.
In the end, I talked about what I was planning to talk, but I can’t escape a very worrying fact that is teasing me these days.
This week I got to watch the video you can watch below:
As I was watching it, I realised that all this innovation might come to nothing very easily if things don’t change dramatically. We have spent the last years talking about innovation and the incorporation of cutting edge technology in education. Nowadays, budgets are being dramatically reduced, and families are quickly losing their purchasing power. Who will be able to support them if we want to introduce the use of elements such as mobile devices or powerful hardware in education. Will the state subsidise… the states are broke! Will families be able to take in extra expenses for hardware… I’m pretty sure most will not. I’m afraid that innovation might turn into a grand experience for a dwindling minority, and that makes me sad.
But I still feel passionate for what I do!!
I can understand your worries and concerns. It is dreadful when budgets are cut and the programs closed. We think that we move forward but, actually, we have to make a step backward. That is life. We are not empowered to change it, unfortunately. But as you mention “the person in front of them truly believing in what he or she is doing” will always be there and this idea is soothing. The world has seen thousands of crisis and recessions but this has never led to the decline of teaching. A teacher is the only island of stability in the raging ocean of political and economic shocks. In such situation, the task of the teacher is to stay calm and inspire confidence in the students.
I think we can do well with what we have. A good teacher will be able to bring innovation with very limited resources he/she has. This week’s topic is a good proof of that. Many of our colleagues manage extremely large classes and they find the ways to make this as productive as possible. “Necessity is the mother of invention”
In my university the opportunities to use modern technology are rather scarce and when I realized that I need to introduce some innovations into the classroom I made a way. At first, I brought my own laptop and showed video, some powerpoint presentations. Then there was an old computer in my classroom, which didn’t work the way I wanted it to do. I thought hard and came up with solution: I took a new one from our teacher’s room (we have two), for this I had to persuade everybody that this new computer would bring more benefit if I put it in my favorite room 103. Now many of my colleagues can appreciate it. What we are driven by is our desire to change things. And one more quality that distinguishes teachers from many other people, it is the fact that we are ready to sacrifice many things (time, money, health, family etc,), we are ready to spend our own money in order to make things work perfectly, we spend hours in search of ideas and sources. We will survive in any time, any hardship and this is what our students and followers respect and love us for!!!
I fully understand your worries. Our countries are undergoing a severe economic crisis and there is no money, no investment, only budget cuts everywhere and education is always the first to suffer. There was a great technological project to equip schools but it sort of vanished and my school was left with 20% of all the equipment it should have received.
And parents don’t have much money either nor teachers. I often spent my own money buying materials for school, now I’m rethinking those options. In a while we will only have our imagination and resourcefulness. And passion, of course!
As I was reading your post, I kept on nodding and I am so sad that the situation is so much worse in Greece.
So many opportunities and so provocatively only for the “few” privileged. Sadness takes turns with anger!
But, as you say, I also continue trying to pass my enthusiasm onto the students.
I can’t imagine what the future holds for us!
thanks for your comments on my blog and for the rich resources you have tagged here.
Thanks, Marina. Courage will keep us alive!
Innovation should be a way to level up all schools… needless to say what’s going to happen if money is away from the public system!