13. Learning manifesto

Learning is a continuous process through which individuals are encouraged to acquire competencies, and skills to be readily accessible in a wide variety of situations in life. Today’s world is rapidly changing as shown by a survey done by Deloitte in 2017 in which they found that about 90% of  CEOs think their company is facing disruptive change driven by digital technologies  (2019, October 22). They also found that 70 percent of the CEOs believe their organization does not have the skills to adapt. Therefore, the skills individuals are learning now will be obsolete at an accelerated rate. From my educator’s perspective, I truly believe that learning cannot be separated from teaching and vice-versa. The need for continuous learning requires educators to be constantly learning or adapt to the needs of their students to help them achieve their goals. In my context, I support students achieving their goals by teaching them a second language. 

I realized that being bilingual was instrumental in opening doors to reach my dreams. In addition to this, a second language helped me build great friendships with people from all over the world, discuss current topics and have empathy with others while discovering different ways of thinking. Teaching my own language and my own culture while discovering others puts a smile on my face every day. I love to travel, to know other places and ways of being and I want to share such knowledge with my students.  As a Spanish teacher, I want my students to have opportunities to discover the world and reach their goals. By using a Blended Learning approach, my students will feel motivated and engaged in my lessons. They will have voice and choice, make new discoveries and go from a passive role – as consumers of information – to a more active one – as producers of information while they learn another language.

My classes reflect the society we live in now. It is a mixture of cultures that coexist. It is definitely a mindshift for many but our schools need to teach empathy to students due to the diverse population we currently have in our classrooms. Teaching Spanish online is a different story. Covid-19 pushed schools to think outside of the box. Remote and Face-to-Face  learning are still present in many classrooms across the Globe. Educators have been required to learn digital tools that have existed for a while but were considered optional before. However, such tools now support and enhance the way students learn. When I started 100% remote learning due to the pandemic, I had no idea about the skills my students needed to feel successful. The learning and teaching needed to continue but it required a mindshift from the learners’ and teachers’ perspectives. Engagement became a problem and I realized that I needed to change the way I was teaching to adapt to the way my students were learning. Blended learning became one of the approaches I started digging into in order to support my students. When I was designing my courses, I wanted to combine the best aspects of the classroom experience with the flexibility and accessibility of an online format. The most difficult challenge was creating a series of digital lessons to foster Spanish skills that students would not simply click through but felt engaged and instill ownership of their learning.

Change in education takes effort from all stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers, administrators, and even policy makers. COVID-19 forced each one of us to make a sudden change that I felt and still feel unprepared for when wanting to accomplish the mission in my school. The process of adapting to the new ways of teaching and learning and meeting the needs of our students at our school will continue requiring considerable commitment from me.

These new circumstances forced educators to reinvent themselves. In my specific case, I had to change my teaching approach. Blended learning will increase the engagement in my classes. The approach offers greater flexibility through online education allowing students to study anytime, anywhere from an electronic device. In addition to that, it  offers personalized teaching. Not all students feel comfortable asking questions in front of the whole room. The online environment eliminates this fear and improves the learning process for some of my learners. This is where giving “learners choice in how they present, organize, and structure their ideas to influence others and solve real-world problems and issues.” Thibodeaux, L. (n.d.).  What I really want to give my students is ownership of their learning by using a blended approach. I truly believe that by designing authentic tasks from which they can choose in my Spanish classes, my students will feel invested and own their learning process. 

I believe in the importance of using digital tools  that enhance student learning by providing choice and voice when learning another language.

I believe that by providing a myriad of ways to accomplish authentic tasks, students will have ownership of their work. As a result, they will feel a sense of pride and success. 

I believe that if educators teach students how to use the language to create real life experiences, students will develop empathy and expand their capacity to recognize the emotions of  their peers. This will give students a voice to be part of the learning community.

I believe that teachers can improve the critical thinking, a growth mindset when teaching a second language using real life experiences which will engage students in learning.https://www.youtube.com/embed/B99FXVamqMM?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&start=204&wmode=transparent

For many students, digital learning can be truly transformative. It can be a powerful motivator for some. Others find it a safe place to work on specific skills that they are having difficulty with. I believe in using highly adaptive personalized online resources to engage students in purposeful independent activities with me as a facilitator, providing them with a personalized path and giving them the opportunity to immerse themselves in authentic tasks. Teaching in an online environment has changed my mindset. It was not an easy process for me but I know that I need to adapt so that I can meet the needs of my students. Schools all over the globe are going through similar changes in both teaching and learning. Learning is a continuous process which has helped me figure out different ways in which I can engage my students in learning a second language so that they are able to reach their goals. Even if the pandemic situation gets better, schools will not go back to the traditional way of teaching. Online teaching came to stay and I need to continue learning ways to engage my learners through the use of a blended learning approach. Schools will continue supporting educators to improve their teaching methodologies to meet the needs of each student. 

References

Posted December 21, 2017 by U. W. A. | B. N. (2019, October 22). Why is continuous learning 

important? https://online.uwa.edu/news/continuous-learning-important/. 

Thibodeaux, L. (n.d.). Passport to Learning: Turning Today’s Learners into Tomorrow’s Leaders

Learners Mindset. http://tilisathibodeaux.com/wordpress/?page_id=1539.     

BOLD-Blog On Learning and Development. (2020, October 20). Using digital tools to transform the

classroom [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B99FXVamqMM&t=204s

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