Negativity Gets You Nowhere

When implementing technology in our schools, it becomes essential that lessons continue to be based on achieving a maximum level of student activity, rather than focusing on the skill of using the technology itself. One thing that stood out for me in the videos was how different teachers approached technology integration in their classrooms in terms of how they perceived and utilized the support of their colleagues. I continue to wonder how current perspectives impact the ways in which students, teachers and administrators form their attitudes and approaches toward learning and educational technologies. Teachers can no longer realistically expect to “know more about technology” than their students, and if teachers are unwilling to provide opportunities to their students to lead with their own technological expertise, they will always be limited by a sense of frustration much like that expressed by the retiring teacher in Video Case 5.

One of the challenges in effectively implementing technology to enhance student learning and experiences in our schools is to help support and educate our teachers about practical applications in terms of planning, authentic practice, and assessment. The terminology and endless usage of acronyms often intimidates and alienates students and teachers who are already feeling “behind” in terms of their perceived technological skills and knowledge. As a result, the reality is that many educators approach technology with apprehension and mistrust, and they feel a lack of support in planning/designing tasks for their students that integrate technology in meaningful ways into their classroom practice. In addition, there is a sense of being ostrasized if they ask questions or seek out support. As MET graduate students, I feel that we have a tremendous opportunity to bring a level of knowledge and experience into our schools to promote professional development and collaborative support in moving our pedagogy forward with regards to learning technologies.

In order for technology to be integrated and utilized for greater impact on student learning, schools also must be committed to supporting teachers through professional development, collegial support, and technical assistance. Without any one of these supports in place, the technology can not be used to its potential. This requires a significant commitment in terms of cost (monetary and time) on the part of school administration to ensure that a positive environment can be established and maintained to benefit students and staff.

The most successful schools that I’ve been at have enjoyed positive support from administration and the ability to promote and build teacher capacity with integrating technology amongst staff. As a technology lead at one of my previous schools, I was fortunate to have had a tremendous opportunity to help plan the purchasing and implementation of technology for elementary students and staff, and provide support and professional development around developing best practice and building teacher capacity. The amount of time and money that went into this work was phenomenal, and was not always greeted with cheers and enthusiasm, but ultimately provided staff at the school with the opportunity to start at their technology comfort level and then, with continued support, to move forward and push beyond their boundaries to learn more. Truly, without the organizational support and commitment from school administrations, many teachers wouldn’t have the opportunity or the desire to integrate technology into their daily practice.

 

5 comments

  1. I noticed too that one of the teachers said that we can no longer expect to know more about technology than our students and I wonder if that is a source of great discomfort for our teachers. Historically teachers were the experts, with information and knowledge flowing from teacher to student. I like how you have identified that we have the potential, as MET students, to be influential in the changes around technology in our districts. It is one of the main reasons that drew me into this program. What did you find was most successful at your old school in supporting new staff with technology implementation? I am always looking for new ideas.

  2. Allen

    I like the fact that you discussed professional development to support teachers with technology.

    I wonder if could expand on how you would organize professional development for a staff with a varied amount of technology skill.

    A good next step might research what would have the greatest impact on student learning.

    Christopher

  3. I agree with you that ‘negativity gets you nowhere’. Rather if we as educators can switch our fixed-mindsets to growth-mindsets, to redirect technology for education, that can help students connect with inevitable advances and learn through increased opportunity with technology.

    Andrew

  4. Hi Allen and Sarah

    I can relate to the current teaching situation in which sometimes students can know more about technology than their teachers. I am working in IT, and I am expected to be an expert in any technology. At least, that is expected from my co-workers and friends. However, it is impossible for me to be an expert in every technology coming out these days if it is not related to my job directly. I learned a great deal about many different educational teaching tools from cohorts in MET courses. I was pleasantly surprised to find out how knowledgeable my cohorts were. My next step was accepting them as my new educational technology coaches/advisors. If we start to acknowledge that everyone can be a teacher and everyone can be a learner, I really think that the students-know-more situation can be considered one where student-centered learning offers an abundance of learning opportunities for both students and teachers.

  5. The title of your post caught my eye because it is something I believe strongly. It is too often the case that we hear teachers complaining about having to use technology. I think you make a great point when you say that teachers shouldn’t feel like they need to know more than their students in technology in general. However, especially to some of this is perspective is a problem and rather than accepting the fact technology integration is not going away they continue to push the argument that it is taking away from students ability to learn, without really having proof for this.

    I also could not agree more about professional development. The province is wisely promoting a curriculum that has a multitude of possibilities for our students tied to technology. However, for the best outcomes teachers need to remain as up to date as possible and as educators, we must take the pledge to be life-long learners to heart possibly now more than ever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.