“Why do wolves howl at the moon?”
“How do cars move?”
“Why does haircuts not hurt?”
Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes in the presence of a child has seen how instinctively and wonderfully curious they are in the world around them. Their evolving brains observe and question the new, unknown, or confusing in an attempt to understand the world and their place in it. Such exploration is the key to learning. But if you’re like me, your K-12 experience focused more on educational standards than creative exploration.
Education is complicated. Schools and districts have many challenges — ranging from classroom management and test scores to student safety and emotional well-being. It is therefore not surprising that the more creative, exploratory elements of teaching sometimes take a back seat. Yet we know that teachers consider them important.
GoGuardian’s research team recently conducted a survey among educators from 40 countries to gather insights into the teaching practices that drive student engagement. Responses revealed that when it comes to engagement, teachers value learning experiences that address the whole child – creatively, cognitively and emotionally. Of all outputs, creativity and self-expression were rated highest for their perceived impact on student engagement.
Fortunately, the proliferation of technology in education provides us with a strong opportunity to mitigate many of the challenges facing our schools and help students reach their full potential. With carefully developed tools, we can make good teaching more effective and give teachers the opportunity to create educational experiences that inspire students.
At GoGuardian, our philosophical belief is that students are inherently curious, and it’s a matter of supporting teachers and schools to enable the right set of educational experiences. We are focused on helping educators gain impact in a few key areas:
Creating active learning experiences that promote self-expression
What happens when students are given more opportunities to interact with content and demonstrate their learning? Research has shown that tools like Pear Deck that support active learning can improve equality, reduce performance gaps, and help improve school culture. When students are able to demonstrate their thinking in different ways and hear their ideas being discussed in class, students’ commitment and confidence increase. Out-of-the-box thinking from teachers — in how they teach, deliver information, and collect student work — supports creative output from students.
Improving student-teacher relationships
Technology can never replace the role of teacher, nor should it ever be the goal. Students who are connected to and feel supported by their teacher are more likely to develop a growth mindset and improve their social-emotional skills. Technology can provide teachers with a point of contact with students for support and commitment, whether they are in a physical classroom or learning externally.
GoGuardian Teacher and Pear Deck allow teachers to provide personal, private feedback on student work, metacognition to those on the go, and better support those who may be struggling. These moments of connection help teachers build trusting relationships with their students, enhancing the classroom climate and learning outcomes.
Protecting students with thoughtfully placed railings
Technology opens many doors, but not all doors are safe or appropriate for students to walk through – especially in class. With tools like GoGuardian Teacher and GoGuardian Beacon, schools can keep students focused on learning while ensuring they have the support they need in the event of a crisis. With proper auto bars, digital learning environments are safer and more productive, allowing students to freely explore their interests and curiosities.
Reinforcement of student voices
Encouraging broad class participation is a familiar struggle for many educators. And the absence of feedback from students raises real concerns: Are students engaged in the lesson at all? Do they have a share in their own learning?
Students may hold back in classroom discussions for many reasons: shyness, lack of confidence, not understanding the content or questions, etc. They may not want to risk embarrassment – or they think more deeply about the issue than their peers.
Classroom technology, like Pear Deck and GoGuardian Teacher, allows more students to share their thoughts, ideas, and knowledge at the pace that works for them. Teachers who use Pear Deck can e.g. Choose to control the pace of a lesson or give students more freedom. For synchronous work, Pear Deck’s Lock Timer encourages teachers to slow down and allow for different treatment times. Teachers using the GoGuardian Teacher can also see students work in real time, so even if a student never reaches out, their teacher can be sure they are set and making progress with the rest of the class.
The future of digital learning
K-12 education will always experience challenges, but each provides an opportunity to unleash curiosity, promote engagement, and promote learning outcomes for all students. As the learning landscape continues to change, digital learning tools need to keep pace, support teachers every step of the way and make room for more creativity, more curiosity and more wonder in the classroom.