As teachers, I think we are all Mighty Morph Masters. We make decisions on the fly, adjust a lesson to differentiate and better suit learner needs, tweak to ensure better engagement and impact, all while maintaining a positive, supportive energy in our classrooms. These are all things we do on a constant basis and essentially reveals that we remake ourselves and our practice on a constant, ongoing basis. We are MASTERS of MORPH!
It’s kind of cool when you realize you have superpowers. I mean, it seems to me that morphing would be considered pretty advanced stuff on the evolutionary scale and it’s not like teachers haven’t been thought to have superpowers before. It’s quite well known that teachers have super-hearing and eyes in the back of their head. “Johnny, stop playing that game on your phone and pay attention please”, “We’re not taking selfies right now Crystal”, “Your discussion should focus on our novel study, not your weekend plans, please” are statements that leave students flabbergasted and wondering “How did she know that!?!” and feeling their teacher has some sort of supernatural ability. Face it, morphing just adds to the list.
I looked at how the morph master process happened for me and I’ve been able to break it into steps. The first step was realizing that I needed to be more efficient so I could have more time to work with and support students.
1. Be efficient
One thing I noticed over and over again was how much time I spent doing tasks that really didn’t have much impact on student learning and success. I considered how much time I spent photocopying, handing out photocopies, getting a class settled to start the lesson, photocopying some more because the student left his assignment sheet at home or lost it, photocopying even more because you just had a student join your class three weeks in, or repeating instructions because someone was away or late or (sigh) not listening. I think we all can relate to these scenarios and in every case, it represents time lost that could have been better spent having a real conversation with a student about their understanding or working one on one with a student who needs extra support.
Trying to get more efficient vary, but for me, it started with a class blog. Blogger hosted my class page where I could post assignments, reminders, and instructions. Additionally, this became my first foray, aside from word processing, in utilizing tech in my classroom. Students were able to retrieve lost handouts, reread instructions they missed and access this information at home. Efficiency improved and I had more time with my students.
2. Less is More
Adding efficiencies through the use of technology began to morph the way I teach. Essentially, I have found that I teach less, and it has given my students more. At first, I started adding some self-directed lessons (remember WebQuests?) on my class website. Then I shifted to using OneNote class notebooks and the eLearning platform Brightspace by D2L as my class hub. Now I give what I call mini-lessons and then students are able to get into their work for the day or larger projects, whatever the case may be. If they need to access the information again, they can do so from our class hub. Morphing to this blended learning style has really allowed me to differentiate for students and give a more personalized learning experience. And the best thing? Well, I can concentrate on giving constructive feedback, assisting students who need extra help, and just developing better relationships with my students. Furthermore, my students can utilize learning tools available like Microsoft Dictate and Microsoft’s Immersive reader so they no longer have to wait for someone else to read or scribe for them. The benefits that I have seen are that students take a more active role in their learning and are more independent. They do not rely on me for all the information and have shown increased problem-solving abilities. Because I no longer take up most of the class time teaching, we also have more time for interacting with each other and spending time creatively engaging with the subject matter, which leads me to the third step in my morphing process.
Want to check out all the capabilities of Microsoft’s Immersive Reader? Learn more here:
Being untethered to the front of the room gave me the freedom to try new, engaging, creative projects with my students. At first, this was a bit intimidating, especially since I tend to collect tons of ideas and then become overwhelmed with the myriad of possibilities. Being frozen with possibilities doesn’t do anyone any good, so I decided to just try one new thing and took the plunge. Jumping into a new experience and pushing myself to expand my invisible, self-imposed boundaries has meant giving my students really unique, engaging learning experiences; for example, Global projects like the Climate Action Project, the Innovation Project, and Be the Change, Take the Challenge, learning and making connections outside the classroom walls via virtual field trips, Skype lessons and Skype-a-thon through Skype in the Classroom, and bringing in Global and 21st century skills and learning through blogging, Hour of Code, teaching the sustainable development goals, and much more. As you can see, trying one new thing leads to trying more new things.
Being a Morph Master
It’s interesting in retrospect to look back and see all the adjustments and changes that have happened over time. Learning to morph by integrating technology in my classroom has helped me become a better teacher. I can offer more individual attention to my students, support them in a more meaningful way, and allow them to be independent, capable thinkers, which, truly, is the best thing I can do for them in this fast-paced, ever-changing world.
Cover image by Lynn Thomas made with Visme.