When you listen to a podcast and it sparks something in your soul...Chuck Poole is a podcaster who asks "Are you a Blockbuster teacher in a Netflix world?" After listening to his podcast, I could not let the analogy go. It was the perfect description of the two main categories many of us fall into.
Let me explain. Blockbuster was once the go-to place for personal, home entertainment. They were everywhere, respected, and successful. One day, a small startup came to them to pitch an idea for a new way to approach entertainment. Blockbuster wasn't interested because they were already successful. Poole states that just because something isn't broken, it doesn't mean you can't go ahead and make improvements. I truly believe the same can be said for teachers.
Poole outlines Netflix's three basic characteristics of success and compares them with those of a successful teacher. I have summarized below.
Netflix is very adaptable. As the need for new options arises, Netflix changes to meet those needs. Teachers are the same. Some teach more than 30 unique individuals at a time. As we strive to create authentic learning experiences for ALL learners, we must be able to not only change our pace or approach but also our mindsets. The tasks, presentations, and methodology from 10 years ago, do not always work with today's students.
This is where your technology tools come into play. Using Google Classroom, interactive playlists and other tools allow you to duplicate yourself in the classroom. Screencast lessons and teacher created video tutorials can be used in conjunction with best practices to allow teachers to remediate and/or enrich learners.
Like Netflix was willing to take a risk and leave the comfort of a brick and mortar rental business, you must be willing to take a risk from the "old" way of teaching. Worksheets, PowerPoint presentations, and trifold posters were all great tools. That's how I learned. However, we live in a time where the majority of our students have their own devices, idolize YouTubers, and have never had to rush home on a Thursday night so they wouldn't miss their favorite show. We've got to step out of the comfort zone to that place where the magic happens.
Some teachers are afraid of technology as it is a new and sometimes scary resource. However, transparency, trial and error, and support from your iTeach coach can combat this problem. Also, try to integrate in small doses. Dedicate a week to using Google Classroom with fidelity. The next week, add in a Google Forms quiz. Before you know it, the technology will be the tool it was meant to be. Remember, a laptop can never replace a great teacher, but it can save a lot of time and make a great teacher even more efficient.
One thing Netflix definitely had was a vision. They were able to anticipate the future and make plans to meet the driving need. We are preparing children for jobs that do not even exist yet. Think about that. Think about how amazing and scary that is at the same time. I currently have a career that didn't even exist when I was in high school, but now I'm constantly trying to explain to curious teachers how they can have an amazing opportunity like mine. Educators love their content, and it is important. That's what they pay us the big bucks to teach. But we also have to teach our students the process of learning and achieving competency. True, a student might not ever balance a chemical equation in adulthood, but the skills required to solve a difficult problem is the foundation for being a productive citizen.
As we anticipate the changes in our world and the global economy, we must always remember the 4Cs--collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Technology seamlessly promotes all 4. Google's G-Suite, Nearpod, Flipgrid, screencasts, blogs...those are just a few tools that a visionary teacher can use.
The path to Netflix and...Achieving (Shameless Plug ALERT!)
So you say you want to try the Netflix world of teaching? As your instructional technology coach, I'm here to help you integrate technology in a way that makes you more adaptable while taking your risk-taker and visionary spirit into consideration. Please let me know when you'd like for me to come to your classroom to offer support. Remember, I'm available to you for co-planning, modeling, and/or co-teaching.