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North Georgia College & State University lecturer presents ideas for educators
Barbara Dixon, coordinator of post-baccalaureate studies at North Georgia College & State University’s School of Education, speaks Monday evening during the school’s lecture series program, which featured “Preparing Teachers for 21st Century Students” at the Gainesville Civic Center.

Lecture series
What: “Childhood Obesity” by Elaine Taylor, associate nursing professor
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St. NE, Gainesville
How much: Free

Lectures also are presented Wednesday at the Hampton Park Library in Cumming and Thursday at the university in Dahlonega. The series ends next week.

Much has changed in the classroom since Barbara Dixon was in grade school.

“In the past, the standard for a good classroom was a quiet classroom,” she said. “That’s not the case anymore.”

Dixon, coordinator of post-baccalaureate studies at North Georgia College & State University’s School of Education, spoke of the 21st century classroom Monday, and what teachers can do to prepare for it. The talk was part of a lecture series sponsored by NGCSU.

Dixon told the crowd that students today can make multiple connections in seconds. Children are living in an age where constant access to information is the norm.

“They are very good multitaskers and are immersed in things we never had such as blogs, wikis, Facebook, texing and Skype,” she said. “As 21st century teachers we must use all the technology we can.”

Dixon painted the audience a picture of the classroom she was accustomed to as a child. She said in the past, school teachers encouraged rote memorization of facts and many classes were textbook driven.

Classrooms were also “teacher-centered.” For a long time, teachers could not be questioned, Dixon said.

“If the teacher wasn’t strong in their content area, were we getting the best education? No,” she said.

Dixon said she believes today’s focus needs to shift to content and skills such as creativity and critical thinking. Students today are also more likely to work with peers than in isolation.

She added that there are three R’s educators should use: rigor, relevance and relationships.

“Students need quality thinking not just quantity,” she said.

Students must be actively engaged in their own learning, and instructors should make it clear why the curriculum is important to their lives, Dixon continued. Educators should also make the classrooms feel safe from things such as bullying and ridicule, and show an interest in the child’s education.

“Students don’t care how much their teachers know, (but) how much teachers care,” Dixon said.
Monday’s audience at the Gainesville Civic Center mostly comprised current and former teachers.

Audience member Sammy Smith of the Gainesville City Schools board said many of Dixon’s conclusions were terrific, especially her thoughts on relevance.

“Much relevance in my high school and college days directly applies to my profession every single day, for which I’m grateful,” he said.

He described the lecture series as bold, because educators are stepping off campus and out of classrooms to inform the public.

NGCSU student Brittany Schubert is majoring in middle grades and teaches at Da Vinci Academy.

“I came to learn about new ideas and strategies,” she said. “I liked the part about video conferencing in classrooms.”

Dixon said teachers need to be the innovators, and they should begin working with some of these methods now.

“Teachers must grow and provide new opportunities,” she said. “All students deserve the best education because they are our future.”

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