Staff Blog

Helping Teachers Prepare Students for the 21st Century

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    Posted over 4 years ago by Tene Gray.

    In order for children to be prepared for the 21st century, educators have to understand what it takes to create an environment that supports teaching and learning new media literacy. DYN believes there are four essential ingredients that a teacher must possess:

    • Pedagogical knowledge
    • Portfolio of work to share
    • Cultural capital
    • Technical knowledge

    Pedagogical knowledge involves understanding the art of teaching and learning. Taking content around a specific medium and knowing how to deliver it to students in fun and engaging ways is key to a new media literacy classroom. Having a portfolio of digital work is important, too. It allows students to see a teacher as credible, and it demonstrates for students that sharing work with others allows for transparency. Being able to build cultural capital is an ingredient that a teacher needs to be able to do in order to build community in the classroom. Getting to know students – understanding their backgrounds, their interests, likes and dislikes – provides teachers with valuable information that can inform how they design activities for their students. Finally, technical knowledge is essential as students need an “expert other” to help them understand how to negotiate and use different tools to create digital artifacts.

    Using this as a framework, I’ve been able to think about how to support teachers coming into this work. This year I’ve been working with a new teacher in understanding the framework and how it relates to the DYN culture, practices, and methodologies. Our initial meetings have focused on DICE, the online curriculum management tool that every teacher must use to upload units and lessons. A brief overview of the tool and how it could be used was provided. From that, expectations were discussed in terms of the writing and completing of units for afterschool classes. In addition, a few core readings related to teacher practice were discussed.

    In my assessment of our initial meetings, I think we focused too much on the abstract. There is a need to come up with a different approach with this teacher at this point because it’s later in the year. There is value in learning from others – particularly people who are doing similar work. Since, this teacher came onboard with us so much later in the school year, he has only attended one professional development session with the other two teachers. We meet monthly, which means there will be opportunities to collaborate with the other teachers during the months of April and May. However, I want to make sure that our coaching time is meaningful and valuable to the teacher.

    With that said, I will try a different approach: grounding our conversations in the teaching practice based on my classroom observations. The goal is to create opportunities to make connections to DYN practices and methodologies. In addition, we will set some 1-2 goals and benchmarks with the intention to assess progress over the next 10 weeks.

    I look forward to it!