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Personal reflections: new reality, new teaching

The power of an idea is unquestionable. Plato was right when he said ideas rule the world. Ideas also change the world. And this is the tool we want to provide our students with, because we want them to be able to solve new problems in the near future. New problems require new solutions and critical-thinking skills.
We want them to develop problem-solving skills and for that we are not helping if we are giving them everything already done.
In my beginning years as a teacher I clearly understood that I have the responsibility not to do anything that can be done by my students. If I do something they can do by themselves [like accessing information] I am stealing that precious moment of the discovery or just simply I am making their life too comfortable, too easy, or I am stealing the possibility of even practicing something.
The old paradigm in which the teacher present the "knowledge" / "information" and students study it and reproduce showing it through an exam is no longer valid. Our real world nowadays doesn't work that way. Education needs to be the driving force for shaping our future. Therefore, we need to update our strategies to our new reality.
A language class has a huge potential to introduce these new ideas to our students. A language class can be much more than just a snap course.

Let's put this into practice:
In my class I have built-in in my schedule a weekly time for "independent learning":
I provide my students with learning tools and I give them time to "play & learn". Let's take a look to a possible sequence:
1.- The teacher presents the "tool" (can be an app, a website, a manipulative, a worksheet, a game...)
2.- The teacher use the tool, showing to his/her students how does it work, what it is for, the benefits, the type of learning associated...
3.- The teacher and the students use the tool together.
4.- The students are independent to use the tool by themselves. The teacher just need to supervise them or check their progress later on.
This sequence is based on a wonderful one I learnt from my wonderful friend Marisa, thanks!

I encourage my students to present "tools" they like to me, and if I consider it appropriate, then we share it with the class. (This is really powerful, to let and encourage them to really take ownership of their learning, to do what they really want).

With this simple activity we are saying to our students: 
- You can do it independently
- you can learn by your own
- you can make it happen, you are capable to do whatever you want if you take the necessary steps (which depends on multiple factors: personality, type of learner...)

We are providing them with the idea that:
- THEY can learn by themselves (they will need to understand this perfectly to step into the outside world)
- learning is not a passive thing. A teacher just throwing content in their heads does not work anymore.
- to learn can be funny and can be done in many different ways.
- THEY can learn all subjects with different approaches and strategies.
- learning is not an isolated thing that occurs separately in each subject, they can transfer strategies to one subject to another.

Potential activities are endless. I'll try to post more strategies and activities with their sequences based on ideas more than just in rules, but the idea that underlies all this post is deeper and wider; it refers more to a change in our approach of teaching assuming we are entering into a new era and new realities need new ideas and solutions.
Further reading:

This is an interesting research on how students transfer knowledge between languages and how they benefit from that.

Image sourcehttp://arte-actual.blogspot.com/2011_06_01_archive.html

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