Teacher Appreciation Week; Computer Games and More

Lots of thoughts have gone into this post.  Most of it focuses on:  This week in The United States is teacher appreciation week and I certainly have enjoyed the things that have been done for the teachers here at Oak Hill High School.  Lunch has been provided and we have received small gifts from school groups as a way of saying thanks.  It has been nice.  Also, recently a study came out stating that computer games have no measurable impact on learning.  And the final item that has spurred this post is why have I gotten so much attention for using games in my classroom.

Teachers…..what makes a good one?  My children are getting ready to enter the pubic school system and like any parent I want my kids to have a good teacher.  And being a pubic school teacher myself….am I a good teacher?  First and foremost, I want my kids teachers to care about kids and selfishly my kids.  I want a teacher that will foster a relationship that will encourage kids to take a risk, to learn something new, but more importantly to teach my kids the value of hard work, respect, and generosity.  I want my kids teachers to develop a relationship that will supersede the subject matter knowledge that is in the curriculum.  I want a teacher to care about my kids, a teacher who will try new things, a teacher that will praise, a teacher that will enforce rules, and give punishment.  I want a teacher that wants my kids to excel, treat them like an individual, and encourage them to be good people.  I want a teacher that will work hard at their job.  I hope I am a teacher like that.

Relationships.  That is what I really think a lot of this is about.  The study that said games have little impact on learning has been misleading to the public.  Games work.  Not because it is a game.  But because teachers that use game involve their students in an activity that most students like.  I think that is a mark of a good teacher.  Always looking for a new way to engage the student of today.  It is a daunting task.  I have said this before  and continue to believe that good students learn with a teacher or without.  It is the other groups of students that really need a teacher to push them.  Average and below average students need the relationship that teachers can foster.  Games are a way of connecting…a way of relating to today’s student.  We could use an abacus to teach math in high school..but we don’t.  Scientific calculators are the norm today.  Games are a tool.  Do they have to be used?  No.  Should they be used.  Yes. 

Finally, the success that I have had with games has brought attention that sometimes amazes me.  I have one speaking engagement this summer and will probably have more through out next school year.  The games are the focus of why I have been asked to speak.  I, however, hope the underlying reasons have more to do with the relationships I build with students.  The relationship establishes the arena for the use of the game.  One in which we can have fun, laugh, play, and learn. 

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One response to “Teacher Appreciation Week; Computer Games and More

  1. Engagement is so necessary in schools today. I’m in Massachusetts where the state standardised test MCAS was becoming all the rage as I entered high school. Teachers were giving us exact forumlas for writing essays (according to the standardised test’s rubric). We learned information and no connections. It was SO dull. It didn’t feel human… It’s a breath of fresh air when I see teachers doing things that TRULY engage.

    I’d say a good teacher often has the quality of being self-critical and being able to ask the question: “Am I a good teacher?” Being willing to grapple with that.

    The computer game study… well, I KNOW that passion and engagement have a huge effect on learning, but I’d assume it’s really difficult to measure this empirically, and the sort of learning that matters most isn’t the sort that can be measured. One could attempt to measure whether passion or engagement has an effect on learning, say, literature, but if the test focuses on details such as the colour of a character’s hair, and I’m immersed in deeper issues and themes, the test could never measure the influence of my passion.

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