One of the most important things aspects of being an educator is having a growth mindset, being one of these early adopters who gravitate towards the technology or a new idea because it provides a meaningful experience for our kids. Even if we're not those early adopters, we at least need to have that mindset of being the part of the early majority who are going to really tip that new technology on its head to make sure it's meaningful and and beneficial to all students. I was an early adopter of Google Glass, don’t judge me. I didn't buy Google glass to be like “WooHoo it's the new fancy thing and I want it!” No, I had an idea behind that purchase and the idea was to utilize the Google Glass as a back channel into the mind of my students while we are discussing a topic during class. I was always finding that I had many students who would not raise their hand to ask a question or I had a lot of students who were just passively listening, but they were not being part of the discussion in any way. I knew I had many learners who wanted to ask a question but they were fearful to talk because of their accent or that they didn't have the best grasp of the English language to string together a sentence that they felt they share to the class. So what I actually did was I took those Google glass and I attached them to a Twitter feed for my students, #MarquezScience, and we started to do something called Twitter in the classroom. The feed actually went through my eyepiece and so when a student had a question instead of raising their hand they would tweet at me and I would see their question in real-time and I would be able to answer it in real-time without them feeling like they were being singled out. I was uncertain if this idea would work, but i knew i had to give it a try.
This is the kind of idea that I'm looking for with early adopters. Innovating with new technology to find a way to best fit the needs of our students. It's that innovation that excites me. Innovation that challenges my teaching norms and forces me to transform my classroom to meet the needs of all my students. I always find myself asking this question “Would my students still be in my classroom if they didn't have to be there if after attendance was taken? If there was no repercussions of getting up and leaving how many students would still stay because they found it meaningful to them?” I always fashioned my lessons towards with these questions in mind. Because there's no one-size-fits-all in teaching, we have to find and utilize technology that's so malleable, so that you can embed things into it that is that truly meets the needs of all types of learners. Visual learners, auditory learners , tactile learners. All these different kinds of learners have to be thought about when creating a lesson, no matter if you're an English teacher, a science teacher, a social studies teacher or PE teacher. All of our lessons need to be accessible to the students so they have a pathway to have their voice heard and learning amplified.
When I start looking in all this tools that are available to teachers today, I get excited! In fact, I actually heard a term a while back called TAMASHA which helped me to understand why i was so excited to be a teacher today. I heard this term in one of the most unlikely places, it was a documentary for cricket. Don't ask me how I started watching this documentary on cricket, lets just say it was a long layover at an airport one night. In the documentary I found out that India wanted to find a way to take this British game and make it their own. Take this British game that could last up to five days and and truly make it a faster paced game where a younger generation could enjoy it. They transformed the old outdated game, into something similar but new called T20 cricket, a fast paced game with a Bollywood style atmosphere, they said the game was now TAMASHA. They say now it is called TAMASHA because cricket in India is fun, exciting and important but also uncertain with an outcome that they don’t know.
When I heard this story it deeply resonated with me. It reminded me of my desire to take the older methods of teaching and mash them together with something new and innovative. This is the way teaching needs to be transformed in a manner that fun, exciting, important and uncertain. TAMASHA is Teacher. As a teacher you have to have fun while you are teaching. That doesn't mean every day you're gonna walk in and be the super excited teacher, it would be awesome if you were. I mean there's gonna be times you're like “It's Monday...how many more days until the weekend?”, which by the way the answer to that question is always five, there are always five days until the weekend if it's Monday. You just need to have that air of fun inside you, no matter what, because if you're not having fun, if you're not happy to be there, if you're not excited that you have an opportunity to change the world on a daily basis, if that's not you, then maybe you should look for something else than being a teacher. TAMASHA also says you have to bring excitement into the classroom. Excitement doesn't mean you have to jump on your desk and and scream at the top of your lungs or or be this entertainer. Excitement means that you're making learning meaningful to the students. It means your learning, as Dave Burgess says, has a hook to draw your learners into your story. This is where you have to ask yourself, is my lesson exciting enough to keep them on the edge of their seats? For the students to want to hear more about our topic? What excitement also means is you have to make sure your lesson is important to them now, today. I remember when I was in my seventh grade math class and I was asking my teacher “why do we have to know this?” and I was told “In 20 years you're gonna…” Students don't care about “in 20 years” They want to hear it now how is this affecting them now. Finally, and I think this is one of the most important aspects about TAMSAHA, uncertainty. As a teacher you don't have to be certain your lesson is going to work. You don't have to be certain that you know how to use a tool 100% perfectly. You don't have to be certain at all, you just have to be willing to try new things. I think a having a portion of uncertainty in any lesson is incredibly important when you're looking at teaching in the classroom, it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact I always emphasize a great teacher doesn't mean perfect teaching, right? A great teacher is somebody that loves what they're doing, makes the learning meaningful and important to their students and tries new things to make it relevant for them. That's it. That’s TAMASHA. How are you going to embody TAMSAHA in your classroom?