What Would MacGyver Do?

Throughout my teaching career I have been put into certain situations where I did not have the tools or resources necessary to do what I wanted, or so it would seem.  I have found ways over the years to take what I have and turn that into what I want, as best as I could.  I taught in a district where you could tell there was no consistent Physics teacher for a long time as most of our equipment came from the 1960’s, post Sputnik.  I had to do a circuits lab in Physics using power supplies that were unsafe, or I could use digital simulators combined with some physical materials to help students experience the same learning.

This meant I had to be like MacGyver and turn what I had into what I wanted, it also helped to be an optimist who is willing to do what they need to do for students.  It is so easy to just become bogged down in pessimism because of all that we have to deal with as teachers, but that does no good for our students so we need to stay positive.  When we start approaching everything we do with a negative viewpoint, students can sense that and it does no good for the learning environment.  I have always felt that if, as a teacher, you reach the point where you no longer want to learn, then I do not feel you can be an effective teacher since you can not be an effective modeler of the learning process.

This should help many with how I view technology, because where someone may see a tool that only has one purpose, I see endless possibilities.  I always want to see what we can do with that tool, not just what it was intended for.  Take for instance Swivl, which is a great tool to help you record video using an iPad or other tablet.  I am a huge proponent of video in the education field, not just for flipped learning but as a way to engage learners and produce resources that fit their needs.  Using Swivl we can record video of us teaching and of students learning, we can use it for feedback and to help ourselves grow as educators.  But I do not just see it for what it is but what I can do, which gets me excited because I am always looking for ways that we can improve what we are doing and do things we haven’t been able to do before.

We also need to look beyond the basics of a tool and see how we can adjust and modify it to fit our needs.  Anyone can go and buy a fishing lure to catch a fish but it takes a good fisherman to buy that same lure and modify it so that it becomes a better fit to the environment they are in.  I have been able to do a lot of great fishing using cheap lures that I modified to better fit the conditions that I was in.  I do the same thing with tech tools, I adjust and modify until they do what I want.  I am always focused on the student and the learning but the tools become another way I can reach those goals that I have.  Again, it comes down to looking at the possibilities instead of the negatives with any situation.

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