We all know that today’s classroom looks very different than it did 50 years ago. It looks different than it did five years ago. Technology is not only changing the face of our society and how we live, but it is changing the way in which we teach, learn, and value education. However, classrooms all over the country and world are facing new challenges. I am not talking about the obvious challenges, because we know teachers face huge challenges every day. I am talking about the less obvious challenges. The challenges that are often viewed as “gifts” or “teaching tools.” The “T” word: technology. Technology tools are supposed to make teaching easier and more accessible, but are often viewed as obstacles. But why?
Schools all over the world are in need of money. Budgets, funding, grants…all schools need it, all schools want it, and they want as much as possible. We work hard for money because this money is most likely the key to getting the very things our kids need to succeed. No school wants to deprive their students and teachers, no matter the zip code. Then, we get our money. Hooray! (Usually not as much as we want, BUT hey, it’s something.) Then, what happens when we get our money? The most common answer for many schools is TECHNOLOGY. Schools are desperate to get their hands on the latest and greatest programs, computers, tablets, professional development, etc.
This seems like a dreamy scenario, but for many it is a scary, untraveled road. A road that many teachers don’t want to go down. It is new, it’s a bit terrifying, and it is, more importantly, time-consuming. Let’s face it, time is a luxury teachers do not have. Most of us don’t have it, but teachers barely have time for a bathroom break, let alone create a whole new curriculum integrating technology WHILE learning the technology themselves. Before we teach, we must learn. But what happens when we get new Chromebooks or tablets that we have never used before? I will tell you what happens, a teacher says, “So you are telling me that I have to learn how to use this, teach the kids how to learn how to use it, and then use it for my lessons?? AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!”
No one is denying that it is hard. It is different, and for many veteran teachers, it is a whole new ballgame. However, I urge anyone who has received the extraordinary gift of new technology (because it is a gift) not to turn your back on it. Be an advocate. Be brave and don’t give in to what is easy versus what is the best for your students. Because I promise you, you are not doing any favors by depriving kids of learning through new technologies. You are also not doing yourself any favors by not learning the technology yourself. If you are asking how to integrate new technology or are “asking for a friend,” there are a few things that can help.
We all need to start somewhere. Start at the beginning. Day 1: Learn how to turn computer on and log in. Day 2: Read an eBook together. Day 3: Check out one page on the internet, literally. Soon you will be assigning students homework ONLINE. I am not kidding; this is so doable with minimal effort. The rest will come. If you start with too much, it will most likely become overwhelming, and you may give up before you start.
SEEK OUT THE TECHNOLOGY GURU IN YOUR BUILDING
Every school has one. While they may not all have the same skill sets, there is always one teacher (sometimes more) that gets it. It comes easy, they have fresh ideas, and believe me, they want to share. Bribe them with cookies and amazon gift cards if you have to. The best part about working in a school is that you have several people doing the same thing as you. They have trialed, they have errored. They have faced similar challenges; they may have it figured out. They may need you to figure it out. You all need each other. Use each other.
HAVE YOU MET MY BEST FRIEND, GOOGLE?
Seriously…Google it. Remember when I said that teachers want to share the knowledge? The best educators do it on the internet. They are so tech-savvy that they share their tech-savviness using technology. They have done it, they know what works. They have received the gift of technology in the classroom and they have figured it out. They have spent the time learning and integrating the tools so you can spend half the time they did and just read about all the work they did without doing it all yourself. And often they speak in laymen’s terms, using step-by-step instructions. They are teachers. They get it.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT/LEARNING PROGRAMS THAT COMPANIES MAY OFFER FOR TECHNOLOGY
Here at Genius Plaza, nothing makes us happier than when teachers and students use our platform. But like I said before, learning something new is always time-consuming. We are begging you…please let us help. PLEASE. We offer (included in price) 4 professional development programs to teach teachers how to use the platform and how to most effectively implement it in your classrooms. We want to help. We want to show you how to use the tools and create the amazing lessons that you have always dreamed about. When searching for new technology to use in your school or classroom, don’t overlook this vital piece. It’s like finding treasure buried in the sand.
New things are hard. Whether you are a child or an adult, there is always a learning curve with everything. Don’t underestimate your students. They are growing up in a world where they not only want technology, they need technology in order to be a successful, and be a contributing member of our ever-changing society. Let’s give our students the tools they need to succeed, rather than denying the natural order of progression. Ask for help. Doing it alone is not an option. Be patient and optimistic, and the end result will be worth it, I promise.