Sunday, September 12, 2010

Teaching Tech or Teaching WITH Tech?

[Don't worry, I haven't bailed on teaching technology, just thought the low-tech, no spell-check sign was funny! :-)]

I've completed my first month of teaching technology for 7th grade and photojournalism for 8th grade. I would say it's been a successful month, on the whole. Since I'm teaching a "special area" class for self-contained junior highers, I only see each group of kids once a week, which means I've spent a total of 3 hours with them, so far. While this has eliminated a lot of management issues, it's also made me realize a number of other things about teaching (or my opinion of it).

First of all, the kids are great (by and large). The 8th graders require a shorter leash to keep them on task, and are less patient with any words coming from my mouth (i.e., the quicker I can get them working on a project, the better), but are able to think deeper. The 7th graders are sweeter (currently) and are more interested in learning to do things on the computer, but have less background knowledge of computers.

I am enjoying teaching students how to use various technologies (ranging from blogs to online stickies to digital cameras to Powerpoint), but doing it in 45 minutes and/or having them remember what to do after 7 days is a bit of a challenge. I enjoy not having to explain or justify WHY I am using technology to administrators, but since I'm a traveling teacher to 4 schools, administrators are just glad there is someone in the room. It does take more patience teaching how to use specific technologies in the beginning, but the payoff should be worth it.

However, what I'm learning is that while I don't miss classroom deadlines, test score analysis, administrative pressure, behavior management, etc., I do miss finding ways to integrate technology INTO my curriculum (as opposed to technology BEING the curriculum). I'm trying to integrate a bit of the curriculum into the technologies I'm supposed to be teaching, but it's not quite the same. So, to scratch that itch, I try to offer suggestions and help other teachers who need assistance in that area as much as possible.

On a related note, I've gotten to do a lot more training for other teachers this year, as I've finally learned a number of lessons in education (now that I'm starting my sixth year). Some of those lessons include:
-If you want to do something/go somewhere, ASK.
-Figure out who you need help from, and get on their good side
-Put yourself out there (if you are curious about something new, try it; you might be good at it)
-Don't be afraid to fail (blessings might come from the experience anyway)
Hence, this year I've done some trainings for IWBs (which is a blast) and am getting ready to do a digital poster session for Delicious soon at the district's Speed Date Your Computer event.

Overall though, my eventual goal is still to end up doing teacher training full time with large groups, as well as working with teachers individually to help them integrate technology into the curriculum.

So, all that to say, if I have to choose between teaching tech or teaching WITH tech, I want to teach people to teach with tech :-) (There's some tongue-twisting alliteration for you!)

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