[Leaders from Duplin County Schools recently completed an NC New Schools study visit to University Park Campus School in Worcester, Mass.]
How do you measure success in a 21st century classroom?
Some may think computers, SmartBoards, Clickers, iPads, or iPods — but I beg to differ.
As a former business teacher, I am a self-proclaimed advocate of current technological devices as excellent tools for student engagement. But as I explored the classrooms of University Park Campus, I was quickly reminded that learning is about good teaching and not good technology.
These teachers worked hard during the class period — not to click through PowerPoint slides or show a video on YouTube, but to engage students in activities that required them to read, write, think and talk. As I observed, I didn’t witness students sneaking into their book bags and purses to send off a quick text — instead I saw them talking to each other to discover on their own the objective of lesson.
Surprisingly enough, employers in today’s technology-driven society are not looking for workers who can text rapidly or sync everything from their music to their kitchen sink. Instead they are looking for people who talk to one another and solve problems in a collaborative fashion. It is obvious that University Park Campus keeps this focus — and because it is the expectation, students know how to embrace and engage in the learning environment.
I cannot close without adding that yes, this southern girl from eastern North Carolina can actually pronounce Worcester, MA…..if only they would spell it like it sounds….”Woosta.”
Selina Riley-Gurganus is an achievement coach for Duplin County Schools, an NC New Schools partner district. After spending 20 years in the classroom as a high school business teacher, she is now enjoying planning and delivering professional development to administrators and teachers.