My first teaching position included a blackboard of all things and there was no computer lab which was a step behind the public high school I attended in the 80’s. I am now working with mobile devices, interactive boards and have been teaching computer skills to kids as young as 5 for 10 years.
How many experienced teachers with years of experience and proven results feel overwhelmed by the use of technology in the classroom today? Recently I found a letter from a “struggling teacher” on 21stCenturyTeacher.com
In summary it is teacher with proven teaching history and 18 years experience. They are now expected to teacher with interactive boards and mobile devices and they find the training inadequate and lack the skills to educate themselves. I was placed in a position where I was expected to learn several new applications in a short time and to be quite honest I was stressed.
I am sure there are thousands of teachers in exactly the same predicament. What do you do when you can’t learn at the pace of those around you? Many of these teachers have a proven track record with teaching and produce results in standardised tests, which is what the school executive want but do the students enjoy learning and is there a higher potential for students that is untapped?
In a past life I was an computer trainer and teaching 8 adults was far more challenging than teaching a class of 7 year olds. So what can we do to help these stressed and struggling teachers to keep up.
Mmmm…. What did builders say when they were given their first hammer gun? Or their first drill? Power tools did not remove the need for builders, it simply changed the way they did the job.
Many teachers are encouraged to buy or better still are even given their own device. Unfortunately they are presented with a box, they then have to set it up on their own. Locate software and learn to use it and then find an educational use for the apps and software. Sync it with iTunes, learn to use the App Store or the Market. (do they even know or care what any of these words mean? No! Will it make them a better teacher if they find out? Probably not!
Help the teacher unwrap their new device. Help them set it up and customise it with apps and software that is relevant to their job. Put shortcuts and bookmarks on the desktop and toolbars to make it easier to use. Customise settings to make it personal eg: personal photos for wall paper. Include links to relevant folders and documents.
Customising a device does not improve teaching but it does create ownership over the device. It makes it personal and useful.
I have a text book, I have good results.
Sit with the teacher and understand their subject area, how could they use technology to improve student learning? How could they make their classes more interesting for students? Student learning should be the priority. Locate website and apps that will enhance the classroom.
eg: some examples maybe
www.youtube.com - school channel
Periodic Table for a science teacher
Graphing app for a maths teacher
Google maps for a geography teacher
Puppet pals for teacher of 5-8 year old.
Grooveshark.com for a music teacher
The list goes on.
Why do I need technology?
Sit with them and look for a practical use to enhance their teaching in the classroom. Get them to use the device for personal use, so they can see educational value. Go with them to their class to ensure the technology doesn’t fail them. Set up team teaching experiences that will enhance the process.
More next time…