The term technology is quite broad. It means different things to different people. Some might consider the move towards 1:1, BYOD, BYOT or even using tablets such as iPads as the only way to embrace the technology that is so rampant in our society at the moment. In my school, I would love to see more teachers experiment with the concepts of flipped classrooms, twitter, google plus, or other social media platforms in the classroom.
Some teachers have wholeheartedly embraced this type of technology with their students: using technology to enrich the learning and engage students in ways that were impossible ten years ago. These teachers will adopt the technology in spite of my role as administrator, not because of it. These are teachers that will find a way. My role, in these cases is to make sure that any obstacle that I can control is removed so that they can teach, learn and lead without worrying about bandwidth, tech failures or larger district policies (of course, they need to follow the policies, I just need to make sure that they can navigate through them to provide enriched educational opportunities for our students).
But then there are those teachers that want to embrace the technology, but don’t know where to start. These teachers need the support, guidance and learning required to move their practice forward. Just giving them permission is not enough, they need help with getting to that space where learning gets messy and risks are taken to enhance the learning within their classrooms. It may be that their idea of bringing in technology is using a tablet in place of the overhead; starting small with powerpoints that lead to showing YouTube clips or animated, real time video. Small steps, but huge in the direction that is needed to make sure that all students have the opportunity to participate in our connected world.
Then there are the teachers that might consider using technology, but don’t feel they have the knowledge base or expertise to even start. Working with these teachers, there is a need to introduce them to the professional connected opportunities such as twitter to demonstrate the power of being connected. If they see how their own learning happens, they can translate that to their classroom, in their way.
Finally, there are those that use quizzes from the 1990’s, overhead sheets for students to copy (which technically is still a type of technology) and use lecture as their main source of teaching. Don’t get me wrong, lectures (especially the Socratic method) can be a powerful learning experience and I wouldn’t want some of these teachers to change who they are. Sometimes, though, variety can lead to creativity and creativity leads to passion which can be a powerful learning tool.
For me, it’s not the type of device or the type of app you use in the classroom. It’s about the relationships you make with students and develop the trust that creates opportunities to take risks. Moving into that zone of proximal development and Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow, where the great learning happens. Technology in the classroom is, for me, just an excuse to try new things and experiment, where learning is a by-product of living.