I have always loved working with technology inside and outside of my classroom. Now, this is not to say that I have not had my own misgivings with certain pieces, but once I start to learn about the benefit, I can usually determine that my misgivings were mostly misunderstandings. Technology is so much a part of our everyday life and I think it’s important that we teach our students to use technology appropriately.
My students have always used technology to help them communicate their ideas. Students have made music videos, documentaries, etc. Recently a group of my students and I decided to travel down the social media route in order help communicate our message. (You can read a current synopsis of our work at: http://www.rockwood.k12.mo.us/giftededucation/announcements/Pages/03152012StudentsDigIt.aspx)
These experiences have made me start to think, what qualities it takes, as a teacher, to be able to use technology in their classroom. I have come up with the following characteristics:
1. Letting Go: It’s so important that we be willing to let go. The students often have amazing, fantastical ideas that are far beyond our scope and what we might have learned how to do. I suggest that you let go of thinking you need to “know it all” and learn alongside with your students. There have been many times my students brought an idea to me and when I didn’t know what to do, I would say, “Well, since I don’t know how to do that, how about we learn together on this?”
2. Role Model: This is a perfect extension of characteristic 1. I strongly believe that when we allow our students to know that we are not the “know it all,” a unique relationships forms that allows us to learn and accomplish together. It also allows our students to view us as life long learners and understand that it’s ok not to know everything!
3. Risk-Taking: Technology can be overwhelming and sometimes we may not understand it’s benefits. This is where a little bit of risk-taking helps. If you aren’t a big risk-taker, start small. Small chunks will lead to larger events and pretty soon you won’t be able to stop.
4. PLN: Networking is a powerful opportunity to surround yourself with others who might have tried something. Taking advice from these people, asking questions, and utilizing this diverse group of individuals for learning will no doubt give you ideas or at least let you know you’re in the same boat.
5. Play: Technology doesn’t always do what we want it to do, but playing, playing, and playing some more with it will help make everything easier. If you try something one time and it didn’t work, don’t give up, try it again. Technology follows this path and that’s why it’s so essential to continue to work with it.
This is by far not a comprehensive list, but when I think about those teachers who “fear” technology it is usually because they don’t understand or are missing one of these characteristics. The good thing is, that we don’t have to continue to fear technology, but instead can work on our weakness, whatever that is, and strengthen the technology experience for our students.