Friday, February 4, 2011

Our Greatest Fears

This blog post is in response to an article Shari Moore shared:

Shifting Teachers’ Thinking: Focusing on Learning First

Although the article focuses on keeping our sights on process and not the tool—the goal is learning—the message caused me to start thinking, once again, about the interaction between technology and teaching.

For starters, I am uncomfortable with the assumption that technology integration, and specifically an emphasis on tools, trumps every other teaching method. But that having been said, not trying new tools is also not an effective approach to teaching and learning.

What stands in our way? Fears.

What are we most afraid of when using technology?
1) I won’t know how to use it.
2) What happens when it breaks down or we hit a glitch we can’t figure out?

I’m going to tackle #2 in this post.

What we’re forgetting when we consider what to do when technology “breaks down” (the screen won’t turn on, the website is down, the files aren’t where we thought we saved them . . . ) is that we have been experts at teaching without the tool. We can simply revert to lessons we have been using sans technology when tech glitches remove the tech option. As teachers, we have always had a back-up plan—when the fire alarm goes off, when a student loses a tooth or throws up or we can’t find the stack of papers we just ran off after school yesterday or even this morning.

I also feel like students need to see adults problem-solving. I cringe at the flippant phrase, "teachable moment" when it is used with a wink whenever something goes awry, but even I have to admit that it fits. I predict that you will have every student’s attention for a few moments the minute something breaks down. It's what you do in that moment that counts. Every person in the room will be required to react to a tech glitch sometime.

We already have the power. We simply need to remember to seize it.

Cross posted to teCHapters (my blog).