“Courage and Grace”

The other day at our staff meeting, I had asked a couple of teachers to please speak briefly about how they have been using technology in their classroom. I specifically asked teachers who in the past had been hesitant to use technology because they did not feel they knew how to use the computer, let alone teach the children to use it. These teachers have been so fantastic and so courageous because they let the children use the laptops while they themselves were nervous about what would happen. What they found was that the children were fine, they were fine and that it was ok to not be the expert in front of their students. In fact, the students, first graders even, were thrilled to become the expert and teach their teacher what they had figured out on their own!

These teachers stood up in front of our colleagues and told them that they were trying podcasting with their first grade students or researching and presenting information using Glogster in fourth grade. When these teachers said that they don’t know what they are doing but are doing it anyway, it created a little buzz among some of the other teachers who are now saying, “I need to get going here and let my students move forward.” When I heard that, I thought to myself, “this is exactly why I wanted these teachers to speak at our meeting!”

I hope that I can harness this buzz and parlay it into more teachers sharing their journey towards seamless integration.

It’s an Uphill Climb

Photo by Michal Marcol

Time is of the essence. TIme flies when you are having fun. Just a couple clichés that concern time, but both imply that time is something elusive, we never seem to have enough of it and the time we do have is often “of the essence,” it is important that we do what we need to right away before the time is gone. Time is also often the excuse as to why some teachers do not feel that they can do technology in their classrooms. They have too many things on their plate already and not enough time to do the “essentials,” let alone add some technology into their curriculum. Time, to me, is really the key to becoming familiar with technology, and when teachers are so busy, how does one get them to see that they need to make time for their own learning so that their students can be the beneficiaries of this personal professional development? What is a technology facilitator like myself supposed to do?

Well, like I said, it is an uphill climb. It is one though, that I cannot decide I am not going to tackle; it is my job after all. So what am I doing? I am popping in to classes when I know they have the laptops (they may be using websites) to see what they are doing and I send lots of emails asking for some time to meet. Eventually, in time, my time will come.

Just Be Flexible

This year we have moved from weekly scheduled “computer” classes to a more fluid, flexible schedule allowing teachers to have me and the laptops in their room on an as needed, in the moment basis. This is a change for some teachers who are used to having that time carved out in their weekly schedule because they at least knew their students were “getting technology” on a regular basis, albeit weekly. For others, this was not unwelcome, as they were used to collaborating with me on projects and having more time working together. For most, it was a little bit of both: distress at what they felt was a loss of a prep time as well as something added that they now “had to do;” and an exciting yet uncertain time when they thought of the possibilities and potential of having laptops at their (almost) disposal.

Before I had a set schedule and saw all 18 classes each week. Now I have a shared calendar that the teachers use to sign up for my time, so some days I see just a couple of classes and other days I am busy going from class to class from 9-3. Before I knew what I would be doing each day of each week. Now, each day of each week is different. Before, I had my own agenda and taught what I wanted, how I wanted to teach it. (please note: I used our curriculum maps to make what I taught relevant to what they students were learning in their class but when I wanted the students to create How to Videos, for instance, I did). Now, I sit with the teachers and we plan together. Before, I taught the children in the lab and the teachers stayed in their room. Now I go into the classrooms and sometimes I am teaching and the classroom teacher is assisting, and other times the classroom teacher is leading the lesson and I am assisting. Before, it was just me. Now it is “we.” Before it was mine. Now it is ours. I suppose this is part of being flexible. So far, so good.

This is a work in progress. I am learning and questioning everyday about integrating technology in a way that enhances and extends the learning, is fun and engaging for the students and is not going to be difficult for the teachers to manage.