By Stephanie Shaw
Ten years ago I came back to the classroom after having my children and was handed a Macbook. It was so exciting, but it was also very scary. I barely knew how to check my email, and now I was going to be expected to use technology to teach a classroom full of fourth graders? If I am completely honest, this was painful for me. I wanted to be great teacher, but I had no idea where to start.
Thankfully, I was not alone and I had great support from my fellow teachers and leaders in my school district. Mooresville Schools were really pioneers in immersing technology in classrooms at the intermediate level. There was a lot of trial and error along the way, but we have been able to use technology to increase student achievement, and I have seen technology transform my teaching and my student’s learning. I want to share some things I learned that I wish I could go back and tell myself my first day back.
- Take it slow. In this digital age it is so easy to be overwhelmed with information overload. Rome was not built in a day, and neither will your technology immersed classroom. It is okay to take it slow, just don’t stop moving. Make a reasonable goal for yourself, like trying something new every month or transforming an old lesson using a new tech tool. Don’t try to compete with the Google certified trainer down the hall. Just be better than you were before.
- Expect glitches. They will happen and it is okay. The site you checked yesterday will go down, the internet will go out and the wonderful activity you planned will be blocked. This is not the norm, but you have to be flexible and have a plan B.
- Don’t expect a quiet classroom. In a technology immersed classroom there is often a healthy buzz of noise because students are helping each other and collaborating. You will see your role as teacher transform into a new role of facilitator and learner.
- Learn to utilize your “techie” students. Today’s students are technology natives and they will be your biggest help if you let them. I make it a priority to build a team of students that can help their peers. It benefits me and it builds leadership skills in them.
- Use your time wisely. If the computer can grade it…LET IT! Technology is a tool, but you are much more valuable. You want to use your time doing the most important thing–working with students.
- Find a tech savvy friend. A good teacher naturally wants to help others, so don’t be afraid to ask. Keep in mind your technology skills will grow, so don’t forget to be the tech savvy friend for someone else as well. Our fellow teachers are not our competition–they are our best resources and we can multiply our influence by sharing.
- Don’t let the technology sidetrack you. Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers are wonderful, but you don’t want to get so caught up looking for the perfect technology lesson that you lose focus of your main goal.
Hopefully these simple tips will help you as your transition into this digital age. Just don’t forget that technology doesn’t make great teachers, it only enhances them.
For more, see:
- Designing Digital Learning Professional Development
- How Do We Prepare Teachers to Teach Coding?
- Preparing Teachers for 21st-Century Learning
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