Teachers, What Have You Learned This Year?

Illustration by Kate Moore

Illustration by Kate Moore

If you’re a devoted reader of the Pear Deck blog, you’ve probably noticed that we write regularly about the importance of reflection. We’ve created templates to facilitate students’ reflection on class content, as well as templates to help them reflect on their emotions and on their personal growth and achievements. We’ve even written about the importance of educators reflecting on their own emotions, identity and growth.

Sometimes the value of reflection is strictly personal and not for public consumption. But sometimes sharing our reflections and revelations can benefit those around us who are facing similar challenges or who have similar goals. So as this school year winds down, I asked our Pear Deck Coaches to reflect on and share some of the lessons they’ve learned this year!

Student Voice and Choice

“I learned how to better integrate student voice and student choice into my classroom. As an instructional technology coach, we made student choice and student voice topics of our professional development for our colleagues this year, specifically how to use technology to enhance these. In ‘practicing what I preach’ in my own classroom, I made some changes. I was able to let my students show their ‘voice’ more with technology tools like Pear Deck and Flipgrid. I was also able to allow student choice by giving them the opportunity to select their own books to read for their English class. These changes made my students' experience more personalized, and contributed to an amazing year for me as a teacher as well.”

Michael Geraghty, English Teacher and Instructional Technology Coach

“I have learned that empowering students to be drivers of their learning helps them develop grit, grow academically, and best prepares them for the future.”

Steph Sukow, Teacher/Instructional Coach

Design Thinking & Innovative Practice

“The lesson I learned this year was the power and potential for design thinking to drive progress in education. It has the potential to empower teacher leaders to shift school improvement plans, professional learning and address challenges in promising ways.  It has the potential to shift classrooms to spaces where students are leading their learning toward the production of results, that connect with others and are refined through collaboration.

However, I also learned that many of our public school structures are not receptive and ready to embrace design thinking. If you are an admin, school leader, teacher leader, teacher or school enthusiast, I encourage you to look at your system.  What might be the impediments to using design thinking? How can you work to reduce their impact? Then most importantly, begin exploring how design thinking might be a process that would benefit the work of your school.”

Matt Sly, Coordinator of Teaching & Learning

“On average teens use technology nine hours a day. If teachers are restricting that engagement in the classroom, students will crave it. No cell phone policies are great if technology is being integrated into every teacher's class. When was the last time as an adult we left our phones at home, we are lost, just as students are in the classroom without access. Connecting to students in a medium they crave, creates students who are engaged and learn more. Teaching teachers to integrate technology in a meaningful way is the future of teaching.

This year my seniors in English created their own Google Site to use as a portfolio for their research paper. Once their papers were completed the real work began as they created their own TED Talks about their topic of research. Finally, students used Adobe Spark in powerful videos to describe their reflections on the work that was created. The outcome was inspirational and one of my favorite units all year. Students used their knowledge to be creative and explore ways in which they will change the world. My students are leaving this year knowing the content as well as how to be creative and innovative well into their future.”

Erin Asamoto, English Teacher/ Tech Coach

Maximizing Pear Deck

“I learned that if I forget to make a slide interactive, I can quickly reconcile the issue by adding a new question type during the presentation and just reusing the same slide. It saved me the headache of fixing it on the spot and rejoining, or worse skipping the slide altogether.”

Mary Alys Foutz, 3rd Grade Teacher

“I experimented with using Pear Deck in pairs as a tool to design Biology investigations.  I started with the overarching question we wanted to study and then scaffolded students towards identifying appropriate variables to test and developing appropriate constants.  I found the full class discussion with Pear Deck to be more robust than splitting my time between each of the 8 lab groups. Using the Pear Deck format also allowed for more effective pre-lab time and gave me more time for investigations.”

— Adrianne Toomey, HS Biology Teacher

What lessons have you learned this year? Tweet at us with your own reflections and lessons learned this year!

This week's blog post was written by Pear Deck Teacher Advocate Risa Bennett.

Risa Fadenrecht