I include this first post of a series on my personal site for a couple reasons:
1) I work at a private Chinese school (and this blog is about Chinese culture), and
2) for more communication since Schoology‘s blog will only let users comment. Speaking of comments, once sending out the below original question to the world for assistance, tens of people have reached out with hearts that have the same passion and care for my students. This crowd has come from the U.S., Australia, Korea, China, and beyond while it’s not just teachers. Ed tech game changers, American education influencers, Apple Distinguished Teachers, Google Ed Trainers, superintendents, and much more have retweeted, made suggestions, and shared resources in the midst of collaboration.
It’s been a blessing in the midst of an inner struggle. Where is “inner peace” when you need it? Sorry, Kung Fu Panda, not this time…I’m not giving up or in because good is not good enough.
After I finished Eric Sheninger’s Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times, I picked up Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Maybe this was a bad transition in my reading material, but Sheninger has quoted Pink in the book and webinars and I’m quite interested in motivation since I teach elementary-aged Asians in a private Chinese school where 95% or so of the students are learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The more I’ve gotten through Drive, the stronger my belief has grown in the necessity of mobile learning tools, their relation to modern life/jobs, and how much fire can actually reside and be tapped into within one’s innate motivation. Not to mention, if teachers don’t take the opportunity to train the students to become well-rounded citizens, which includes being a digital one, who will? As all of the Chinese staff have reminded me so far, the students’ parents don’t know how to guide them. Playing games is the priority of a tool that could foster one’s love of learning. I’d like to change that since Candy Crush can only teach you so much. 😉 Hence, the above question was asked of me after sending out an SOS.
Yes. My students rely solely on curriculum, teachers, and dictionaries for their language learning. We have one TV and computer in the classroom, but only the teacher is really allowed to use these. A computer lab/class is where basic skills are learned and then games or social media (point made?) take place. What then can be done to further the educational abilities of our students? Well, I believe we first need wifi.
And since our administration doesn’t believe wifi can be beneficial, I’m going to meet with them to display and discuss the endless positive possibilities. I just hope not to overwhelm them with the experiences I’ve had over the past few days alone as well as the last few years. And that’s one of the hardest parts about all of this…feeling alone at school yet consistently connected with hundreds outside of it and the country. But I’m encouraged because I know many of you are behind me. My students will be very pleased to know this and to see your support. I show them and my peers at times via my VPN.
Around ten of those 6th graders helped me make a movie to be presented to the admin next week with English and Chinese because they’re all in for change. As a Chinese colleague reminded me, students are not their real selves in front of the admin. I knew this thus I had the students find me personally to record short videos of themselves providing reasons why we should have wifi. And some of these students stand out by standing up so I admire them even if they’re 11-12 years old. They have grit. They have a gut that tells them there must be a more modern way of learning, and they’ll do whatever it takes. As Chris Carter put it so eloquently above, a few of the students have spoken plainly and frankly for our school leaders. One even stood in front of a book case and said that with the internet, he can know or search for anything. Without it, he is limited to only what is in on his desk.
Keep the conversations going…because #internetmatters, especially for ELLs in China.