|Image from here|
As we find ourselves surrounded by more and more technology in our profession as teachers, we see teachers react in strong ways. You have the embracers, the ones that think any tech tool will enhance their teaching whether it really will or not. You have those who are open but sceptic, who look for tools that will create deeper meanings and not just be another flashy gadget. You have the hesitaters, the ones that will not request but will use the tool when they get it. You have the hand-holders, those who stare at something and do not use it until someone else walks them through the entire process, multiple times. Then you have the skeptics, the ones that do not think any tech will enrichen their teaching because they don’t believe in gadgets. Finally you have the resisters, those who resist pretty much any change, whether technology related or not. All of these types of teachers have their reasons for being who they are, all of them base their perceptions on assumptions and on past experience.
So for all of them I offer some advice.
- Don’t blame the tool. Often we hate the tool before we have even tried it, it is like a gut reaction to change in education that one develops. “Oh, here they come again with their fancy new ideas while the old ideas work just fine.” And while there is some truth in that, it is not the tool’s fault it was placed in your room, so the least one can do is explore it. Otherwise it leads to…
- Judge first, condemn early. How many teachers have gotten upset over new initiatives or things being introduced before they have even tried it? Sometimes it is easier to get upset rather than just wait and see; many words have been eaten this way.
- You don’t have to love it but do try it. I don’t love every piece of tech in my room (SmartBoard I am thinking of you) but I do use it. After all it is there so I might as well. I may just prefer to teach in other ways and use different tools.
- Mess with it. Too many times teachers are afraid to even turn something on, let alone push several buttons. This approach can no longer be accepted. We should be guided by many of our students’ approach to tech; turn it on and mess with it. You never know what you can discover on your own.
- Give it more than one try. Even with my SmartBoard I continue to explore it, hoping I will have that aha moment where I embrace it. It hasn’t happened yet, but I will not give up on it. It is there to stay and so am I.
- Ask questions, but don’t gripe. Yes, satisfaction can be reached through commiseration over the latest tool but will that really push us any further toward figuring it out? Start a conversation, reach out to others, but leave it productive. You will feel better when you walk away.
- Get help. Sometimes teachers are too proud to ask others for help but not me. I ask my students to help me figure stuff out, I ask other teachers whether globally or in my school. Somebody else is bound to have run into the same problem at some point so why not solve it together? Team approach works best with technology.
- Be fearless. Technology is not the master of us and it never was intended to be, and yet, how many teachers are deathly afraid of it all? Yes, you may break something but so what? At least you attempted to use it. Again look to our students for how we should embrace technology; try it, use it, make it work for you.
Being a 21th century teacher means we have to equip our students with the know-how of technology, there simply is no excuse to not fulfill our job. Our students learn from us, even the way we react to change, so think of your approach as the newest thing is shown to you. Will you model how to be fearless?