I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend. I had a family-filled week of engagement excitement. Last week, one of my pieces was featured on EdVoices.com so I figured I would share it on EdGeeks today for those of you who have not read it. The piece is near and dear to my heart as it approaches an issue that is often neglected: teachers who don’t feel comfortable using technology. A special shout out to EdVoices, one of my go-to sites for great ed news!
-MarisaHere is my latest guest blog piece for EdVoices!
I left the classroom in September to pursue my interest in education innovation and technology. It saddens me that I had to leave the classroom to pursue these interests but while I was in the classroom, I found myself overloaded with responsibilities. At points I felt that my teaching practice was confined to my city, my school, or worse, the four walls of my classroom. I just didn’t have the time to think outside of my city, or to learn new things and that was starting to scare me. It has been an interesting journey filled with education conferences, Skype sessions with teachers across the country, and talks with various EdTech startups. One of the key ideas I have learned through my research over the past few months is that there is a great divide between EdTech entrepreneurs and educators. The essential question I find myself asking all the time is: “How can we merge the two?”
There are two kinds of teachers today, the tech guru and the tech terrified. During the first panel at the NY EdTech Mashup on April 30th, Rhena Jasey exemplified the exact teacher that entrepreneurs need to target: the tech terrifiedteacher. Many educational events appeal to educators who are already interested in technology. What about the larger population of teachers who live in fear of it?
Rhena shared about how intimidating and overwhelming it was to be in a room full of “techies.” The idea of incorporating technology into the classroom is daunting for teachers like Rhena, who have never had an office job or been expected to use technology to boost efficiency. I know this because I was one of these teachers for a long time. I lived in fear of Smartboards and the laptop cart because I knew that even the smallest malfunction could throw off my lesson, leading to potential chaos amongst my students. I felt incredibly frustrated when an admistrator asked me to use a new website, software program or device in my classroom.
Over the past two years, I have gone through a transformation process. Luckily, I feel much more comfortable in the tech space these days, but I haven’t forgotten the tech terrified teacher-friends I have left behind, and I want to do everything I possibly can to support them. Being a great teacher looks very different in the 21st Century and there is no reason that as our world evolves, our teachers can’t evolve with it. That doesn’t mean “no more pencils or crayons,” but it does mean finding a place for using technology to captivate students. As always, balance is the key.
5 Tips for the Tech Terrified Teacher
5 Simple Tech Tools for the Tech Terrified Teacher: A starting point
Until we actively start addressing the discomfort that teachers like Rhena feel in the edtech space, we will not be successful in moving our teachers or students into the 21st Century. We need to work on finding ways to support the teachers who feel intimidated by technology so I’ll end with two questions:
1. Dear Tech Terrified Teachers: What can we do to support you?
2. Dear EdTechies: How do you do outreach to tech terrified teachers and engage them?