The Tech Classroom-Embracing UnComfortable

cell_phoneOne day, a year ago, I sat in a room with roughly sixty Superintendents from school systems around the Southeastern United States.

The question was asked “How do you feel about all the money you have spent on technology only to find it hasn’t raised a single test score in your school systems while all the time banning the use of the single most powerful tool every student already has, a cell phone?”

I saw a room of leaders move straight into frenzied anger, outward expression of feelings and just about a pitchfork and torch removal of the speaker that day.  The speaker struck a cord though and I now know why I think it was so extreme.

Educators are used to comfortable control.  Not in the negative sense of the word control but in the sense that they dictate the way lessons move, what is taught and when, discipline, and ultimately how students learn.  They create a pocket of comfort within that for themselves….and they should.  It makes them more effective and less vulnerable.   Many educators may argue the last point as students learn in different ways but it is very true as many educators only expose students to one way of learning, one that falls back into their comfort zone.

It is why technology is so difficult for some to embrace and creates an interesting new set of dynamics.  It changes the rules.  It moves educators away from their comfort zone.  It changes the parameters of control in the classroom, especially when talking about using something like a cell phone as a teaching tool.

This ultimately leads to the main reasons that technology is not impacting test scores like it should.

So, what can be done to make technology more comfortable for teachers so that they can move it into their arena of control?

1)  Give it to them.  Okay, you are thinking we already do.  No.  No you don’t.  You give them complicated sets of software and hail it as the next great thing to fix education.  Bring the tech students are using to the teachers.  Give them an iPad, smartphone, Apple TV, Nexus 10 or the likes.  Let them use it.

2)  Make it fun.  The worst thing I see with teachers is more stuff getting crammed down their throat.  Don’t do it.  Create some fun, interactive sessions on how to use the technology and then repeat #1.  Kinda like the tech version of washing your hair.

         Notice we aren’t involving students yet?

3)  Teach the teachers something their kids won’t most likely know.  A common mistake is that we all think our kids know everything about tech and we cannot teach them anything.  I blame the VCR for this.  Because we were the only ones that could program our parents VCRs when we were kids, we now assume that kids using tech is the equivalent to that.  Not the case!

4)  Have teachers bring the students into the fold in steps, over time.  Another big mistake I see in schools is rolling out the new tech and trying to replace everything else that is already in place.  Remember my comfort zone part?  This takes teachers out of their comfort zone.  So…..don’t do it.  Bring it in step by step and create a comfort zone over time.

There really is nothing more to it, than that.

Want a fun, interactive session for your parents, PTO or Teachers and are in the greater Nashville area?  Reach out to me.  I will come do a handful for FREE.  Using Google, Interactive Student Involvement with cell phones, Powerpoint, iPad, Smartphones etc….we can come up with something great.

But, now it is your turn.  Thoughts?  How are your teaching teams doing with technology?

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