My learning journey is like looking through the lens of a camera. At different times in my professional career, my direction in teaching has taken various points of focus. Over the past few years of teaching at the secondary level, my focus has been on how to increase student engagement and achieve student ownership of learning. My photography course was a challenging experience because my students were hesitant to learn the large amounts of information at the start of the term. I would lecture, show PowerPoint presentations and provide articles, videos and give demonstrations. Students would miss class, disengage through lectures and nap during videos. Clearly, the teaching style of being sole provider of content while students simply take notes had slipped out of focus. I chose a wide -angle lens to see what other professionals were doing to engage students. How was I going to reach my students and activate them to want to learn the technical aspects of photography that is so vital to taking quality photographs? My lens located a group of teachers involved in Inquiry-based Learning within a Community of Learners. This year marks my third year teaching an Inquiry-based classroom. My successes with Inquiry have occurred when my students ended their year of photography with a showcase of their work and not one mention of grades or percentages earned were their concern. The year end was only about their passion and the importance of sharing their personal inquiry questions through photography. How do I keep my lens in focus and create that same engagement and ownership of learning at the beginning of the course? By zooming into the needs and learning styles of my students, I believe an online component of my course may be a solution to the challenges of engagement and ownership of learning. Students want to engage but they want to do it on their schedule. My goal is to create a learning atmosphere that honours that flexibility but still retains a strong sense of belonging to a community of learners.
My journey now requires a telephoto lens to see farther and with more clarity into the future of education and how it will meet the needs of the 21st Century learner. We use the word journey to describe our learning because we really do not know what we will encounter on our path and our learning happens at every twist and turn as we go. I know my camera will be swung over my shoulder and I’ll have a wide variety of lenses with me to capture what knowledge I will need at each step of the way.