Hello everyone! It's Suzy Palmer from On the Go Teacher Mama and I am beyond thrilled to be the blog admin this month. I was thinking about how I'm a global teacher and I realized that because of technology we all can be global teachers! I've done Skype book projects with classrooms in other places, "met" teachers via social media from all over the world, shared resources with people in other states and countries, and this is all because of technology. We live in an exciting time and our world is shrinking because of the connections we can easily make with people from other cultures around the world.
Technology is amazing and changing faster than we can keep up with. In the past 5ish years I have added an interactive whiteboard, 24 iPads, 5 student computers, 2 laptops and a desktop computer to my classroom. I have had to learn how to use each piece of equipment, teach my students how to use it, and then take it to the next level. I have learned some major lessons along the way that I'd like to share with you.
Don't even start to think that I am some kind of tech genius or something. I'm not. However, what sets me apart from other teachers is my fearlessness. I'm not afraid to TOUCH ALL THE BUTTONS to figure things out. I'm not afraid to try new apps or programs. I'm not afraid to ask for what I want or need. I'm not afraid to lose control of my classroom and put the learning back in the hands of the students. Stepping out of your comfort zone is how you learn and grow.
Technology is awesome but things will go wrong, be glitchy, or crash. The internet will go out sometimes. That app will have too many ads or in-app purchases and will distract your students. You will screw up. I promise it will be ok. Your students will still love you, BUT you should always have a backup plan.
The next lesson I have learned the hard way. We're busy planning, prepping, grading, collecting data, dealing with parents/admin/colleagues/behavior problems and it is so tempting to just give the kids that awesome new app everyone is talking about. Or, your lesson zoomed and you need to fill a few minutes, so just show a quick youtube video about your topic. Maybe your students are doing research and you want to show them how to do a google search on your interactive whiteboard. As much as you want to just go for it, you always, always, always need to preview the content, apps, videos, and sites you give students. Take a few extra minutes and play with the apps. PUSH ALL THE BUTTONS! Watch the whole video. Always freeze your interactive white board while you search or go to any site you aren't 100% sure of. Check things out for yourself. A colleague of mine was teaching about 3-D shapes and used Google to search for rectangular prisms. She didn't freeze her screen first and what popped up? Boobs. She was mortified and in those situations you just can't move fast enough to get that off the giant screen in front of your precious students' faces. Lesson learned.
The last lesson is about persistence and problem solving. You will encounter problems with technology right in the middle of your lesson. Don't freak out! Don't give up! Don't panic! Take a deep breath, take a moment to work on the issue. Let your students see you work on the solution because that is an authentic learning moment for them too. When things aren't working perfectly I calmly ask my students to be patient while I try to fix it. I talk through it out loud so they can hear how a person tackles a problem. They need to have a model in their lives for working things out and not giving up. At the same time, you'll be tempted to immediately jump in and fix the problems on their devices for them. STOP! Show them how to fix something so you won't have to the next time. Train a couple of "expert" students to fix minor issues so kids will ask their peers for help instead. Teach your "experts" to show how to fix something and not do it for the other student. Allow them to work through their problems while asking guiding questions. Let them become the persistent problem solvers the world needs.
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