Passion Collision

by Ariel Jankord

My husband seems to think every year I have a new initiative or new passion. And for the most part he has been right.

But I finally feel content with this place I’ve landed.

You see after having a conversation with a close colleague this summer, I had a light bulb moment. The first few years of any teaching career a person is trying to find their identity in the education world. Are you the reading guru? Does math make you geek out? Do you love making a mess in science? Are you the teacher who fixes everyone’s computers? The last one was me.

While technology initially seemed to be my passion, I have found it runs much deeper than that:

I want all kids to have access specifically to computer science education.
I want pre-service teachers to be prepared for teaching in a 21st century classroom.

The ISTE conference helped solidified these passions as I engaged in conversations around these topics with people all around the world. Thank goodness for this conference, where you have the ability to break out of your bubble, comfort zone and be challenged in your thinking.

Amazingly, what I realized is these two passions go hand in hand. In order for kids to have access to a computer science education, they have to be immersed in a forward thinking classroom. And in order to be in a forward thinking classroom, we need teachers trained to run a student centered, technology enriched classroom. Which reminds me of what Michael Bonner, from the Ron Clark Academy, shared with us in his Keynote today.

Michael Bonner speaking about equity at the ISTE 2019 Conference.Michael Bonner speaking about equity at the ISTE 2019 Conference.

It’s not about the robots. It’s not whether students should learn block coding or syntax first. Those debates are not at the forefront of the issue. Most pre-service teachers are being equipped for classrooms of the past. Pre-service teachers are not equipped to manage student devices, model digital citizenship, planning for the why before the tool, and the value in building a global PLN. Knowing how to code a robot, at this point, is the least of our worries.

I believe, the future of our students really depend on pre-service teachers. They need to be prepared for the 21st century classroom. I’m not advocating for pre-service teachers to come in and boss everyone around. They still have a lot to learn that only comes with time and experience, but as long as they keep joining education and swimming the same direction of the majority… education will never change.

Here are the questions I’m pondering…

What is the best way to shift current teacher preparation programs?
What are the most important things for a pre-service teacher to learn while in college to be equipped to run a 21st century classroom?
How do we attract 21st century teachers to the profession?

I am VERY aware that I still have a lot to learn, but everyone has to start somewhere. I’m excited to have narrowed my focus because I believe great things can happen once we truly know where our passion lies.