Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Power of "I Don't Know..."

In the Fall, I will be taking over a class called "Digital Seminar". I've never taught this class. As a matter of fact, nobody in my building has every taught this class. It has run successfully at the other high school for a few years as a pilot and I was asked to start the class at my school.

It is always stressful to start any school year, but starting a school year with a class that you have never taught is an extra layer of stress most could do without. I'm confident in my skills to support students as we explore the digital realm and I have some fun ideas for projects and creations, but there are going to be times where I do not know something. It is bound to happen. It's how I respond to not knowing that makes all the difference.

At the High School level, students know if you are full of it. They just do. If I try to give a BS answer to something I am not sure about, a couple of things will happen.

1. The students will fact check me on their phone and possibly call me out. I encourage kids to fact check me all the time. I would rather be wrong and have students get the correct info than  be "right" in their eyes and fail them by not giving the correct information.

2. Students will not respect a teacher that cannot swallow their pride and admit they do not know something or that they were wrong. Respect is very important in the classroom. Kids need to know that you respect them. Admitting you are wrong or that you do not have the answer earns respect.

Just saying, "I don't know" is not enough. It is easy to say that and move on. However, we would not accept that response from our students and we should not accept that from ourselves. "I don't know" should always be followed by "but let's look that up".

We have the ability to have the correct answer in front of us in an instant. Use the technology to be correct, learn something, and then move on to the next thing. Modeling to the students what to do when you do not know something will show them what is expected of them when they do not know the answer to something.

We need to guide our students through the educational world. Not knowing something is the foundation of learning. Teachers need to be more comfortable letting their students know when they do not have the answer so they can see that learning doesn't stop when they graduate. Life long learning means admitting that there are always things we do not know. Show that to the kids and they will be better in the long run.

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