This is a tribute to educators. It is written in admiration of a special breed of dedicated educators that are ‘gifted’. It is a salute to teachers who have transcended the skills taught in teacher’s college and have truly mastered the ‘art’ of teaching.

We all know the type, the teacher(s) we speak of well into adulthood; the ones to whom we hold a special gratitude or admiration; the ones who have helped us to ‘sculpt’ our character or ‘define’ our endearing qualities.

To these educators I say thank you!

And now… As I explore the many issues of what it means to be an educator today… As I investigate what it means to be literate in a technological world starkly different than the one I grew up in… As I examine the nuances of incorporating new ways to teach and learn… I am reminded that technology provides new tools, new methods, and new approaches to teaching and learning, but that being a good teacher involves so much more.

I am honoured to know many good educators: Some embrace technology, incorporate it seamlessly into what they do; Some ‘dabble’, trying new things and blending old with new, (adding to their technological ‘utility belts’ so to speak); And some are technophobes, scarcely leaving their screensaver lest to check e-mail or Google an uncertain term. Across this entire spectrum I know truly wonderful educators.

I can think of more than one teacher who is technologically inept, yet I would love for my children to be taught by them. I also want teachers who can teach my children to be technologically adept, and bravely prepared for the world of tomorrow. In both cases I want my child to be inspired, challenged, cared for, accepted… appreciated.

And so to those of you who meaningfully care for and appreciate your students; to those of you who engage students, and encourage them to be lifelong learners; to those of you who challenge them to be more than they believe they can be; to those of you that students return to see, years after you taught them… I again say thanks!

Sincerely,
Dave.

Think Good Thoughts,
Say Good Words,
Do Good Deeds.

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addendum: It is with deliberate intent that this post was written void of any hyperlinks.

Originally posted: December 31, 2006

Reflection upon re-reading and re-posting:

I wrote this with my wife in mind. She is technologically challenged, she has no interest in computers what-so-ever, and she is a fantastic teacher! She creates a wonderful environment in her class, she has made connections with students that she has maintained for longer than I’ve known her, and she has very high expectations. I loved getting students from her class (she taught the grade below me in the same school for 5 years), and whenever I did my yearly ‘thank you’ cards lesson she would get a significant number of cards from her former students.

What’s the message? It isn’t about the technology! It is about being a good teacher. It is about making connections with students. It is about challenging students. It is about creating a positive learning environment. Again, it isn’t about the technology!

That said, technology, or rather the tools available today, can significantly enhance a learning environment and even create new learning environments that simply aren’t available in our traditional classrooms. Good teaching has a lot to do with the quality of the teacher, but the learning environment can either help or hinder a teacher’s ability as they practice their art. The need for changes to our curriculum, to our means of measuring success, and to our means for providing equitable resources to all of our students must be recognized and dealt with.

There is room for wonderful teachers in our classrooms regardless of technological aptitude, however there are also new literacies that require technological skills. I’m not sure we need to drag good teachers ‘kicking and screaming’ into the technology age, but we do have an obligation to provide meaningful uses of technology in our students’ K-12 experience.

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