I’ve been doing a better job of checking my RSS feed (Netvibes) and scanning for posts that get my interest (instead of just being overwhelmed with the number of them). I came across one that I really connected to regarding my decision to pursue professional development in technology for learning. On his website “Moving at the Speed of Creativity“, Wesley Fryer skillfully and succinctly comments on the idea of ‘teaching technology’.
I’m not sure we need to “teach technology.” Do we “teach pencil?” Technology is a term we most often use for tools that are new. I agree we need to use new, digital tools for communication, learning & collaboration. But I think a lot of teachers get hung up by thinking, “They (the district) want me to teach technology, but I don’t know technology.”
I don’t think we should expect teachers to “teach technology,” instead I think all learners should use technologies as appropriate to further learning goals. We need to all develop our communication skills, both with written words and spoken words. Technologies can help with this.
As I continue to teach, I grow less enchanted with the idea of “teaching technology” and more enthused about “using the tools I need to learn what I want to and/or have to learn”.
This reminds me of working in at-risk schools in the United States and the teachers who would be resistant to strategies and training to support low-readers and English language learners in their classroom. “I’m not a reading teacher.” “I’m not a language teacher.” But aren’t we all teaching forms of communication? Isn’t that what we want our students to be able to do? Don’t we want them to be able to communicate about their learning whether it’s math or art or history? Don’t we want them to be able to learn, communicate and collaborate? One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching for me is helping students improve their ability to communicate and express themselves. Technology is just another tool for them to use.
As educators, it is our job to give them opportunities to use those to tools to learn and to express their learning no matter our inexperience or apprehension about our own abilities to use the technology. I’ve seen teachers who are very connected and confident with many of the latest gadgets in their personal life uneasy about having their students use technology of on a regular basis. But, if our main goal is to prepare our students for the future, we need to provide them opportunities and guidance in using technology to develop the skills and strategies they will need.
I hope that as I get more comfortable and intentional about using technology ‘tools’ in my classroom, other teachers will see that they do not have to become ‘technology teachers’ In his post, Mr. Fryer refers to comments by David Warlick (creator of Citation Machine and author of books about technology and literacy) at a recent conference that get to the heart of what I think our attitude toward technology and education should be. Mr. Warlick states, “We should stop integrating technology! Instead, we need to redefine what it means to be literate, and integrate that!” And I realize that over the years I have seen my role in education as a literacy teacher, no matter the content I was teaching. So, my goal in pursuing the COETAIL certificate and focusing on technology is not to become a ‘technology teacher’ but improve my ability to provide a classroom focused on my students’ literacy needs for their future.