Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spinning Plates - EdTech as a Dilemma?

Teachers have a lot “in the air” at any given time.

Having a conversation with a teacher about embedding meaningful technology skills in their classes/lessons can cause some of their “plates” to wobble!  I get that!  I get it as both a school leader and as a teacher.  For me, this begs the question, how can I safely relay the benefits and importance of tech skills to teachers with so much in the air?

I will not get into which plates are the largest or which plates if allowed to crash will make the biggest mess, but I think there probably is room for that conversation.  Instead, I would like to focus on “chewable pieces” - one at a time.  In a previous post I wrote about how modeling technology can demonstrate and introduce new ideas and resources to tech hesitant teachers.  I really believe this is useful.  It can be effective at showing a teacher a cool site or a slick app.  However, this may not necessarily translate into use.

I have come to realize that technology comes kind of naturally to me.  I am no expert (by no means)!  But, I do pick up on tech stuff pretty quickly and I am not afraid to try.  Technology does not make me uncomfortable.  I have tried, adopted, discarded, forgot, remembered, and forgot again about a lot of cool stuff I have seen.  I am OK with that.  Not everyone is.  Technology can be intimidating and can be viewed as an optional plate that I am not putting on a stick because I have too much in the air as it is.

Education leaders and tech savvy colleagues - these teachers need you!  BUT!!!  They do not need you to show them everything you know now and just skim over “the” how you got there.  What they need is the realization that many great tech strategies they could be using have levels of expertise.  AND it is ok to be a novice.  My friend and colleague Sean (@busedcrev) talk often about what we call  NERD-O-METER.  There is ,seemingly, someone who can always show you a tip or trick to a site, service, app, etc. that you did not know, cool!  Take stock of where the teacher you’re working with is on the NERD-O-METER and start there.  Indoctrinate them with A site, AN app, or A network.  And show them the simplest way to use it.  

Then when they start to hit walls, and surely WE do, show them how to further use it by advancing a level.  If they do not ask questions - ask them how it is going.  If they hit a wall and quit bring them back.  Help get the tech plate going WITH them.  

Tech in the classroom can be intimidating.  Tech hesitant teachers DO have a lot in the air and they’re aware of how tech savvy their students are.  Why cross that line - the kids know how to use it (right?).  

There are so many reasons we need to be embedding practical, useful, and pointed tech skills in schools.  Getting one teacher at a time to come along even one step at a time = victories.  The plates are spinning - but in education nobody said we have to keep them all going ALONE!  If you’re reading this you are likely a tech minded educator or ed. leader.  Go find someone and teach them something new, simple, and practical.  Get their tech plate in the air!

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