As we are embarking on one of the most heavily traveled holiday weekends of the year, I would recommend that you listen to a great podcast from the archives of Freakonomics Radio. Freakonomics Radio is the podcast based on the book franchise and is written and hosted by Steven Dubner.

I was struck when first listening to this podcast upon. Dubner describes three important lessons that he learned from his teachers along his own academic career.

These lessons apply well beyond to an author and podcaster. Dubner’s own three lessons apply well to teachers struggling to use the powerful toolsets available to engage and empower our students:

Old Radio, image courtesy of Grafixar

Old Radio, image courtesy of Grafixar

1.) Never blame your equipment.

Technology is moving as an-ever fast rate, but, as most teachers will tell you, schools can’t often adopt the latest and greatest and when they do, they have to use the equipment until long after it is great. That’s no excuse, though, to not work to be creative with technology to empower your students.

2.) Always be a learner. Don’t let your own arrogance get in the way of learning.

True broadly of teaching, a teacher should be a master learner as much as teacher to stay relevant and fresh in their classroom. I believe strongly that this applies as much to content as much as it does to methods and tools like technology. Assuming you have teaching down pat is a sign that you aren’t ready for next year’s students who will bring new challenges and perspectives to your classroom. Be open to that challenge.

3.) Always know to your audience.

This, too, applies broadly to teaching but I think it is a lesson often lost in classrooms. I hear often of stories of teachers attempting well-meaning integrations of technology into a classroom only to see it fail because they didn’t consider the ultimate audience… your students. Many kids don’t find technology itself to be that interesting or engaging itself and there is still a great role for teachers to create compelling, engaging lessons that encourage their students to process, think, argue, complement and criticize. Your students need you: step up!

So, is Dubner right? What lessons do you draw from your great teachers in your everyday teaching?

Have a great Independence Day weekend!

(Shameless self-promotion: I am Jason Neiffer, the Curriculum Director of the Montana Digital Academy, on-again-off-again blogger at the Tech-Savvy Teacher, professional development specialist.  I am @techsavvyteach on Twitter. See you online!)


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