It is no secret that the new year brings with it resolutions to try new things. When it comes to the classroom, teachers see the new year with the same eagerness as they resolve to try new things to reach students. Because it is mid-year, we know our students and find ourselves in a mental state of readiness that the chaos of August just doesn’t offer.
With over 100,000 apps labeled as “educational,” it is hard to know where to dig in. But before you begin excavation, start with what is tried and true, your constant: the learning objective. With that clearly in mind, venturing into the unknown world of tech implementation does not have to be scary. Instead, resolve to start small. As a life-long learner, I begin with educating myself with what is out there that has worked well for others.
Your best resource? Fellow educators! Utilize the expertise of those on your campus that have found success with tech implementation. You know every campus has those individuals who are willing to embark on a journey into the unknown and troubleshoot the issues way before you step foot on the road to discovery alongside them. As educators, isn’t that our heart? To teach others from the knowledge you have amassed? Sometimes, it’s also about being a learner, willing to sit back and let someone else teach you!
I believe this should be a critical part of any PLC time. Resolve that this is also a priority for your grade level, department or school, and seek out those confident individuals who are willing to teach others (and they don’t have to always be your technology specialists).
I love discovering a new approach to learning that works beyond my classroom or discipline. I try to make it a practice to always find other applications so that any tech I introduce is not a stand-alone tool for me. My favorite response from students is when they come to ask me a question because they are attempting to use the same tech in another class for a completely different task. How empowering to give students that confidence to become the experts, even to the point they are teaching fellow classmates or other teachers how to extend or enrich a lesson.
Looking for additional inspiration? Put the power of the internet to work! If I have an idea of what type of task I want to accomplish, I begin by searching reviews of tech that fall into that category. If I don’t know where to start, I look to great resources such as blogs (like this one) that focus on technology in education vision and implementation. Professional learning communities such as ISTE.org and Edutopia are also great resources. If I’m checking out social media, I often search #edtech or #edtechchat to see what’s trending. Nothing compares to attending tech conferences and finding inspiration in person! I’ve attended quite a few and even had the opportunity to present at tech conferences around the country. Some of my favorites include TASA’s Midwinter Conference, ISTE’s annual summer conference (located in San Antonio this year) and Alan November’s annual BLC Conference in Boston. Each of these conferences have panels, sessions, and workshops for hands-on learning. No matter what conference you find yourself at, new ideas come from a place of inspiration and excitement.
Look for people, places and ideas that consistently challenge you, and often even beckon you out of your comfort zone, for that is where real growth happens. Your willingness to learn will translate to your students! Change is constant. Determine this year to be an instrument of change for yourself and others.
Article I: The New Digital Learning Environment
I.h Children and youth need role models and adult guidance and connections even more than in the pre-digital era, but the role of adults is different, becoming one that is more about facilitating understanding, raising questions, and designing engaging tasks that produce learning than lecturing and instructing.
I.i School leaders, including board members, must work to bring the public into conversations that are needed not just to support these transformations but to help shape them and create ownership.
Article II: The New Learning Standards
II.l Standards should result in all students being committed and equipped to be competent lifetime learners, well- prepared for further formal education and to pursue multiple careers.