I’m a social media infant! For many years my saying has been, “If I won the lottery, I’d go to school for the rest of my life! I’d take EVERYTHING: foreign languages in foreign countries, auto mechanics, and underwater basket weaving!” but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be studying SOCIAL MEDIA and MARKETING! My good friend Amanda has a marketing degree, and (sorry Amanda) when she starts talking about work my eyes just glaze over…
Today, I found myself in a marketing seminar put on by White Whale Web Design and Smart Consulting & Coaching by Lisa. They are very energetic, fast talking and fabulous, but I have a confession… I took this seminar a few weeks ago, before I started my social media adventure, and just about everything they said was like a foreign language! (Good thing I want to study foreign languages right?)
I wasn’t going to go today, but at the last minute I hurried to the seminar with the hopes of making sense of what I had already heard. With fears of looking stupid, I thought, “It’s ok, repetition is the key to learning and becoming proficient in a skill.” I arrived a bit late, introduced myself, made my confession and sat down to learn, again.
Surprisingly, much of the information stuck even though I wasn’t familiar with the vocabulary, and I asked several questions, feeling like I was the biggest idiot, but still, I was there to learn and wanted answers. They answered all the questions I had. I’m sure more will come up, and I will ask and ask until they tell me to stop asking!
I think this is how some of our students feel:
- I feel like this is stuff I should already know.
- I feel like an idiot and everyone around me is so much better at this than I am.
- I feel like I’m playing catch up.
I am all of these things, well, except for being an idiot, but I am ignorant.
Luckily there is a solution for all of this. I’m older and willing to ask several questions and repeat my questions in different ways until I understand.
Unfortunately, young people have a really hard time asking questions that explain what they already know and clearly ask what they need to know. It’s common to hear, “I don’t get it,” from students, but when asked what they don’t get, they have no idea how to answer. Students get frustrated easily when the answer (or question) is not given to them. They struggle with science labs, interpreting literature, and basic problem solving. While they may work on a project creatively, if they don’t have a rubric to follow they are lost. Simply researching and presenting information with minimal guidance to foster creativity and self reliance is almost unheard of.
Inquiry is one of the main components of the new wave of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) principles. This replaces STEM which didn’t consider the Arts. Dr. Ashley Gess is an amazing and incredibly helpful teacher of teachers. She is building Augusta University’s STEAM Education program. Here teachers learn to stop “spoon feeding” information and prompting leading questions, and let the student discover and learn on their own. Open ended questions with discussion and no right or wrong answers is the key, or at least letting the student work through the problem on their own or in working teams (simulating the workplace). This baffles today’s students, but in reality, as adults, we function this way all day, every day. It takes practice on the part of the teacher and the student, but it is doable and the result is both parties feel better about the learning that is happening.
I will continue to learn and share about STEAM principles as they fit well into the self-directed curriculum.
* Short Aside: I’ve had a Facebook account for several years, but I rarely use it, only logging in once every 1-4 months or so, but after deciding to start a school, I’m growing exponentially in my knowledge and understanding of social media. Slowly, I’m beginning to yell less at the computer screen (Is that a stat I can use as a goal? Decrease yelling at the computer screen 50% by December 30th?).