Home » Reimagining Classrooms: Teachers as Learners and Students as Leaders by Kayla Delzer (Transcript)

Reimagining Classrooms: Teachers as Learners and Students as Leaders by Kayla Delzer (Transcript)

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Kayla Delzer

Here is the full transcript of Kayla Delzer’s TEDx Talk on Reimagining Classrooms: Teachers as Learners and Students as Leaders at TEDxFargo conference.


On the first day of school this year, I had a little boy, get up in my face and he screamed at me. He said “I hate school. I hate teachers. I don’t want to be here.”

I remember taking a calm breath, finding my biggest smile and I got down on his level and I said “I promise you’re going to love school this year.”

If we take a look at classrooms over the past 70 years, we are seeing the same type of classrooms, and the same type of learning environments standing up to 70 years. It is my goal to continually revitalize learning and the classroom.

This is a picture of my classroom this last school year. I see classrooms differently. These are some of my students. I see my students differently, and I see the way that they learn differently. The results I get are incredible.

As teachers and educators we must embrace the students of today to reimagine tomorrow. First, we must wonder how we can release the power. For as long as schools have existed, teachers have been the main source of knowledge in the classroom. Teachers are the gatekeepers for everything that happens in the classroom. We are in charge of everything students do or don’t do.

As teachers, let’s not misuse this power. In 2015 we have more resources available at our fingertips than ever before. This gives us the ability, as teachers, to make our classrooms less teacher-centered and more student- centered. Let’s embrace that. Teachers don’t need to master every single app or every single tool before we hand it over the students.

In my classroom I like to use a student teaching student model. So I would give an app or a tool to a student, I would have them learn how to use it, and then I’d have them go teach all the other students and myself how to use that app. Teachers don’t need to master at all. Let’s get kids involved in projects like Genius Hour. Genius Hour is based on Google’s 20% policy, where kids will actually get 1 hour a week to study things that they are passionate about.

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Instead of telling them things they have to learn every single day. This really gives kids ownership in their learning and it makes it very relevant to them. This also means that a lot of the time my students are going to know more than me. That’s awesome. Embrace their knowledge and they’ll embrace their learning.

Second, we must wonder how we can embrace purposeful technology. Using technology just for the sake of using technology is wasteful. If it doesn’t transform your classroom, or your teaching or your learning, just skip it, don’t use it. If the same project can be done using paper or pencil, it’s not transforming your classroom. Always start with your purpose.

If something is boring on paper, it’s still going to be boring on an iPad. Let me tell you what I mean by that. If I give my students an addition worksheet on paper, they are going to think that it is mind-numbingly boring. They are going to stare at me. If I take that same worksheet and I put it on an iPad.

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