As an educator and professional development trainer, I have spent the last year focusing on how Minecraft Education Edition can be delivered to educators. I wanted it to be powerful so that educators would see how Minecraft Education Edition could be used sustainably in classrooms to engage students in content learning. Yet, it also needed to connect with adult learners in a safe learning environment where they can truly immerse themselves as a learner.
Because of this work, I was asked to bring my perspective as a trainer to Global Partner Summits focusing on Minecraft Education Edition. There were to be three opportunities to lead this work globally in Mississauga, ON, Brussels, Belgium and ending in North Carolina for the Minecraft: Education Edition US Partner Summit.
Initially, I was apprehensive about this opportunity. I am a trainer, and these are my peers. How would I stay true to my learning, my experiences and my message while honoring partners’ unique learning and training experiences? My apprehension was easily put to rest with the first training. It is easy to stand with your peers when there is mutual respect in the room. I learned as much from each of the attendees in each session, as they did from me.
I learned many things during these experiences. While I learned about living and working within a global educational environment during my time as a teacher in Athens, Greece and more recently in Merida, Mexico, this opportunity taught me the importance of measuring my words and actions for the global training audience. I like to laugh and find humor in the way I connect with my audiences; however, in these spaces, I needed to make sure what I said and did would translate to the global community. It required in the moment reflection and many opportunities to create pause before speaking again. I also gained insight into pedagogy and practice in countries outside the US, and while we have some of the same challenges and successes, we also have many that are different. I enjoyed brainstorming with training partners on solutions that would help them create successful outcomes for their companies. I also learned that what drives us all is how to better support educators and students. So rather than share just my own learning, there are three important takeaways that I wanted to share.
Always remember who your audience is. In the training environment, it is the adults not the students. If you build the confidence of the educator, we have a far better chance for Minecraft to be made available for all students. The first time you enter a training space, you will have a wide variation of Minecraft skill level, but most of your attendees will have never used game-based learning in the classroom. In Brussels, I had two YouTube stars that far exceeded my Minecraft skills. They learned that, as trainers, they would have to reflect on what it was like to learn this for the first time. When I began my Minecraft Journey, I felt like I needed to be triaged in the back of the room. You can show educators the most amazing things in Minecraft; however, if you don’t build their confidence in what this game is, how to play it and how to connect it to content, we will not be able to build the sustainability of this wonderful tool inside our classrooms. As a trainer, if I help to build confidence, I will be asked back to help teachers hone and improve their skills and can then dive deeper in my own learning.
Those that do the creating and teaching, do the most learning. We see this represented in many areas of research in education and it is no different when thinking about using Minecraft: Education Edition in the classroom. If I, as the trainer, do all the building within my training, I am doing the learning, not my audience. If I, as the teacher, create worlds for my students where they consume knowledge, I am doing the learning, not my students. We reflected on what it is we can do with Minecraft: Education Edition in the classroom. We can help learners better connect to content
Pedagogy and practice around student learning can shift more fluidly and naturally when using Minecraft as a tool for learning. The most impactful outcome from my work this year was how our collective voices can help shift pedagogy and practice in classrooms around the world. We are all speaking the same language when it comes to empowering student learners. When we are asking students to take risks with their learning yet never taking a learning risk of our own, we model a fixed mindset. If I am the expert in my classroom all the time, how am I ever showing my vulnerability to learn something or how hard it can be to learn something new? How are we showing empathy as trainers if we only show our attendees what they can do but never discuss our failures and successes in learning?
After learning with training partners from around the world, my message around Minecraft Education Edition in the classroom is clear. If you are doing more creating in your classroom than your students, you are doing more learning than your students. I encourage you to seek out learning opportunities that put you in the passenger seat of learning while your students drive. Minecraft Education Edition is one of those learning opportunities. Do not be afraid of it because you don’t know how to use it, or you don’t get it. What would you say to your students if they told you they were afraid to learn your content? What do you say to them when they don’t get it? Minecraft puts you in the seat of a learner and it will change you.
|@CraftSavvyTeach and @NCCE_EdTech|