I work extremely hard to be prepared and equipped to help the teachers and students I serve. A 50 - 65 hour week is not out of the norm for me, and I never feel like my job is finished. I need to do a better job of leaving work at the office and enjoying free time, but I really enjoy taking on new challenges and it results in some crazy hours at times. Because of the time I have invested in learning various things for my job, I tend to know a decent bit of information about technology and how things work within my district. There is one statement however, that really gets under my skin. I have had numerous people tell me some form of this statement,
“yeah but that is because you are tech savvy, and I will never be able to do technology.”
I would also point out it is my job, my livelihood, to know the technology and understand how it can impact learning. I do have a different level of responsibility when it comes to technology. A classroom teacher or an educational administrator has a lot of other things to be concerned about as well, so I will never expect one of them to spend as much time learning about technology as I will. The problem comes when people build barriers by saying they “can’t learn technology.” Why is it ok to ignore such an important aspect of our student’s future, because it might not be easy? I have never heard an administrator tell a group of teachers,
“This RTI stuff is really difficult, some of you were just born ready to differentiate, so those that weren’t don’t stress about implementing any of this in your classroom.”
We could even entertain the argument that technology integration and RTI are on different levels of importance for student achievement. This isn’t the post for that argument, but I want to recognize it nonetheless. The simple reality is our mission is to educate all students. To do so, we must build relationships and do whatever is feasible to be sure our students leave our classrooms prepared for what comes next. Our students will continue to use technology, be motivated in different ways by technology, and most importantly they will learn from technology. We must prepare them to understand how technology can impact their world now and in the future. Where that fits into our content can be debated, but to be effective educators we must embrace the reality that technology is an important force in our students lives.
Administrators, if you are going to ask your students and teachers to use technology in meaningful ways, be sure you are on board with learning about and using technology in your role. The excuses that you are too busy, or it isn’t something you need for your role is not acceptable. And most importantly the excuse that it is just too difficult, or you can’t do technology, when you are expecting your teachers and students to use it is absurd. While your job duties might not require you to use tech the same way your classrooms are using it, you as the learning leader on your campus should know the basics of what your students and teachers are doing. Get into the classrooms and interact with the activities that your students are doing, or better yet, let your students teach you how to use technology.
Teachers, you have a ton on your plate, and you don’t have to be a technology master, but you do need to understand what motivates and interests your students. Technology is one big piece of their world, sure they use it very differently outside the classroom, but we have the added burden now to help them learn to use technology in meaningful ways. The number one job of a teacher is to reach students. Ignoring tech completely is equivalent to never learning their first name. Even if you have no devices in your classroom you can do things to connect technology to content learning in your classroom.
And for those of us that are tech integrationists, we cannot ignore our need to understand curriculum and how different people learn. We must continue to understand as much as possible to insure what we do and encourage with technology is truly going to make a positive impact in the classroom. As we support teachers we have to know what their responsibilities are and what will help them attain success. We cannot get so locked into knowing about fancy tech tools that we forget that student learning is really the key, and we need to adapt tech use to enhances that learning.
What is the point of all of this?
I was not born tech savvy, using technology was not instantly something that came easy to me. I made a conscious decision to learn how to use technology. In 1997 a co-worker showed me how Excel would automagically average three numbers for me for over 90 athletes. Since then, I have always been fascinated by how technology can make my daily tasks more efficient. I bought a computer for my home the next year, and as a teacher I used clickers in my class to get feedback from all students, I used a document camera and projector, and all the other traditional classroom tools that were made available. I have spent a lot of hours learning and experimenting with technology. The reality is that I made myself proficient with technology by having a willingness to learn it and investing my time to learn how it all works.
I won’t argue with you if you decide you won’t learn how to use technology. I think it is sad and unfortunate for the students and teachers you work with, and or lead, but that is your choice. We do not have to agree on the importance of learning to use technology efficiently. What I refuse to believe, is that you “can’t do tech, because you just don’t get it, or you aren’t tech savvy.” How did you learn to build relationships with students, to manage a classroom, to differentiate instruction, to pass a certification test, to earn a Masters degree, or a PHd? How did you learn how to raise your kids, or fix the leaky faucet in your bathroom? How did you survive the heartaches and struggles of life? You did it by believing you could, and by knowing that it was important. You made a choice to learn all the things you have learned. You weren’t born being a great parent, husband, wife, or employee. You learned to problem solve and use your determination to do what is needed for the moment, and you found success in some areas and less in others.
I wasn’t born tech savvy, I have worked my tail off to get proficient with it, and to find ways for it to help others. It’s a passion for me, so it comes easier to me to find the time to continue to learn. It may not be your passion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
You can do technology, and your students will thank you for teaching them what grit and determination looks like, they will love getting to teach you things and together you will find some amazing learning opportunities that truly make an impact on your ability to teach your students the content they have to learn this year.
Can’t is a four-letter word, used as a crutch by those who simply don’t want to find a way to do something. We all use it, throw in the word “yet” and magic can happen.
Thanks @AliceKeeler for once again championing this cause, and sparking my desire to put my thoughts down here on the subject