Teachers and Technology

In my job as an Instructional Technology Specialist I am in the classroom with teachers every day.  I am teaching alongside other veteran teachers and I really have the best of both worlds!  I get to go into classrooms and help teachers understand how to apply technology, but I also get to learn so much from the teachers I am with on a daily basis!  Every day when I am in a classroom I also learn from the teachers I am teaching with!  I get to see how teachers phrase directions, how they engage with their students, and how they simplify complex ideas!  I love my job in that not only do I teach, but I learn something new everyday – from other teachers and the students!

I have to say that when I took this job I really thought that teachers didn’t use technology because they didn’t want to learn something new.  I do still think there are a lot of apathetic teachers, but I also now know there are a lot of teachers that don’t understand technology!  I was in a classroom yesterday helping a teacher use her ipad.  The kids were telling us tips and tricks right and left!  The teacher was amazed at what the kids already knew about the ipad that she didn’t!  I told her that for the students, the knowledge of computers and technology is intuitive; they don’t have to be taught how to use the technology because they ALREADY know!  She turned to me and said, “I have been teaching for 20 years, you can put me in any grade level and any classroom and I know how to deliver a lesson.  HOWEVER, I have no idea how to use technology, this scares me because I don’t know what to do!”

I think that is really where teachers are right now.  It isn’t that they don’t want to learn, it is that the technology isn’t intuitive to them as it is to their students!  Teachers are not generally clickers – pressing unknown buttons scares them (we are rule followers – only doing what we are told!), whereas kids are eager to know what every button does so they just press all the buttons.  I always give my students “playground” time when I am introducing a new technology.  Playground time is time to just go in and play in the software or application.  I think what I figured out yesterday is that in professional development and working with teachers I also need to give playground time for them to just sit and play with their devices, encouraging them to press all the buttons and see what they do!

Mostly teachers do want to learn, but what they see in front of them with technology is so intimidating they don’t feel like they can press forward.  Teachers – please understand it is OKAY to make mistakes in front of your students and to LEARN technology from them!  I would just say to all teachers, just keep pressing forward with baby steps!