|Published by: Jon Ketchum
With great advances in educational technology, the traditional “instructor” is quickly morphing into a congenial classroom collaborator. Much like the ‘coach’ of a unified sports team, this technologically savvy teacher triggers student engagement by offering a collaborative learning environment for their class.
Brian Greene is a teacher/leader who considers himself to be the 'coach' of his classroom. At Prairie Crossing Charter School in Illinois, Greene educates his students using what he calls 'unconventional tactics.' Through his many hands-on lesson plans and classroom field trips, Greene claims that he motivates his students to take ownership of their knowledge by trying to have them physically 'experience' it.
"Constructivist learning and the multiple intelligence theory are utilized to allow students to think out of the box and push the envelope in education," Greene says.
Within this atmosphere Greene claims that he is as much a member of his team as any other student, not only does he teach but he learns as well. In an effort to help his students share their growing knowledge and experience, Greene also strives to integrate technology into his classroom. Although his students actively navigate the Web and produce PowerPoint presentations for class projects, Greene hopes to start using webinars and podcasts to collaborate with students and teachers from around the nation. According to Greene, he is always looking for the next best way to engage his students.
"As the principal, staff, students and parents know that there is no challenge I will turn down if it means success for our students," Greene says. "We have so many 'cool' things going on at school; it is sometime hard to explain them all."
Prairie Crossing Charter School also prides themselves on their ability to physically 'think outside of the box' according to Greene. Often times students will paticipate in an outdoor classroom where they tend to the school's garden and individual student food plots. Greene claims that this physical learning environment reaffirms his classroom ideology that students will take ownership over their knowledge when they are personally invested in it.
"Every student is a part of 'Farm to Table,' which teaches our students about sustainability and agriculture," says Greene. "Students in each grade are in charge of planting, cultivating and harvesting a crop that they will turn into a meal for their fellow classmates."
Greene advises that the many teachers who still consider themselves to be ‘instructors’ should try and stimulate their students in new ways. He asks that teachers consider his teaching philosophy posted on Digital Wish, "We must put the power to think, create, develop and challenge into the fingertips of our children."