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Wednesday
Jun052013

Welcome to the first day of the rest of your teaching career

Over the next couple weeks our district will start its first 1:1 initiative. I don't think I've ever been as excited about a technology initiative in my 37 year career. Or as anxious. Our middle school teachers are being asked to undertake some seriously large learning experiences - new technologies, new teaching strategies, new resources, and new classroom management techniques. But we stand to also make some huge improvements in achievement, engagement, and climate.

This is a biggie.

The curriculum director and I have been tapped to give a short "keynote" to start off the first day of professional development next week. I think I get 5 minutes. Here is my pitch:

As veteran classroom teacher I dreaded my administrator going to a conference. Invariably she would return with a new educational “silver bullet” for improving teaching and learning and expect us teachers to implement it. This usually meant a ton of additional work despite being already very, very busy actually teaching. And unfortunately, these new processes, techniques, and plans were abandoned when the next “silver bullet” rolled around. Yesterday it was Outcomes Based Education. Today it is probably Essential Learning Outcomes.

A survival strategy that many of us adopted was to keep doing what we’d always been doing but use the vocabulary of the new thing. We’d keep quiet during staff development sessions and quietly pray, “This too shall pass.” It was difficult not to become cynical about any change effort in school because we knew there would be another initiative coming before we could finish implementing the first one.

The use of information technologies in schools is a different matter. As we look at society in general, technology has had and continues to have a powerful impact on the way things are being done. To think that medical CAT scans, online banking and shopping, or computerized diagnostics of motor vehicles is a “passing fad” is erroneous. And to think that the use of technology in schools is a “passing fad” doesn’t make any sense either.

Classroom teachers have a finite amount of energy and time to devote to change. So why not invest in effective changes to our teaching practices that will stay with us, not until the next “silver bullet” comes along, but for the remainder of our careers?  (from The Classroom Teacher's Technology Suvival Guide)


I will also suggest three guiding strategies I have found helpful:

 Keep in mind that technology does not increase student achievement. Technology used in supporting best practices increases student achievement. Think best practices, not best technology.

 Integrate technology in activities and units with which you are not satisfied, not your great lessons. Use technology to solve problems and meet challenges - not cause more.

 Use technology that personally empowers you as a individual and learner. If you don't use a technology, don't ask your students to use it. It's like trying to teach a novel you don't like.

Even if we try to ban or ignore or minimize student use of technology in our classrooms, it will still have an impact. Our children live in a technology-rich world and their habits, their learning styles, and their expectations are all being shaped by non-school environments. Do we stay relevant in kids lives?

OK, I am over my five minutes....

What would you say in five minutes to teachers embarking on a voyage to unknown places?

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  • Response
    Will your new 1 to 1 (or 3 to 1) initiative land you at a new destination over the horizon, a land of milk and honey, blazing a path to learning and glory? Or, rather, will your ship sink into the ocean, full of heroic efforts that end in despair and ...

Reader Comments (6)

We had 3, shared iPad carts this past school year. I love my iPad, but I am very happy that at least 2 of those carts will be moved to other (elementary) buildings next year. They were used almost exclusively for playing and accessing the Internet; very, very little creating happened. The fault lies in NO professional development for the classroom teachers. I spend a TON of evening and weekend hours "managing" (cleaning up) the iPads after unsupervised students got into settings and etc. If anyone out there is considering a shared iPad arrangement - don't do it!

Anyway, my really short speech: "Unless your use of technology enables you to teach something you couldn't with out it and unless your students couldn't learn better and more without it, don't use it. A worksheet is a worksheet - on paper or on a screen. Taking a test online is taking a test. I hope you'll find ways to use the technology to enable students to demonstrate learning by creating, not by filling in bubbles or blanks with your supplied answers."

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBob Follmuth

Teaching and learning is the prime concept of education, while teaching, make sure that others do learn..... UNN http://www.unn.edu.ng

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIDUEHE

Hi Bob,

You get no argument from me about any of your points.

Our PD slogan for this project is "Teaching Above the Line" - the line being that which separates the Substitution and Augmentation use of these devices (below) from the Modification and Definition use (above). We really hope to focus on changing instructional methods!

All the best,

Doug

June 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Bob,

You get no argument from me about any of your points.

Our PD slogan for this project is "Teaching Above the Line" - the line being that which separates the Substitution and Augmentation use of these devices (below) from the Modification and Definition use (above). We really hope to focus on changing instructional methods!

All the best,

Doug

June 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Bob,

You get no argument from me about any of your points.

Our PD slogan for this project is "Teaching Above the Line" - the line being that which separates the Substitution and Augmentation use of these devices (below) from the Modification and Definition use (above). We really hope to focus on changing instructional methods!

All the best,

Doug

June 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Nice to read this blog; it is a good social work and gives a better opportunity to read without any restriction. It is effective for all career oriented people. Like this, there are several organizations present which help to get a right path for our career and get success. I really thankful to such organizations, as they make our dream true. As a teacher you are doing a good job.

September 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNelson

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