Leadership skills must be developed. I have found that although I love teaching, I need to continue to develop my content understanding and be reflective of my approach to teaching to be an effective leader. Technology lends itself to continual development because the rate of obsolescence is so rapid. In order to keep a current knowledge of available resources and current technology I have to spend time researching and finding ways to implement them in the classroom.
I have found that one reservation teachers have regarding technology is the overwhelming changes that seem to come daily. It can seem that once they learn something new and embrace it, the technology is no longer useful and has been replaced by another mystifying product and process. I feel like my role as an Ed Tech, much like my role as a teacher of children, is to help demystify the content for my students. I can help them learn to navigate an iOS device and then show them how the gestures and screens are meant to be similar so that when learning a new app, the consumer will be able to figure out how to use the app without much guidance. Much like teaching a first grader that when a word ends in an “e” the vowel in the middle is going to be long. This knowledge ties into future words and provides the student with the knowledge to decode words they find without being explicitly taught. Learning about technology is learning to play the game.
As a teacher, I know it is important to never stop learning. I had this hope for the children I taught, so I must apply the standard to myself. One of the things I love about being an Ed Tech is that I have opportunities to learn every day. When I become bored or not excited about my job generally, I find that I stop and take time to learn something new. This helps me renew my enthusiasm for teaching and causes me to want to find someone with whom I can share my learning. Creating a website where I can locate my content with teachers has been helpful in sharing my knowledge and giving me a way to publish what I know with teachers and colleagues. Talking with other educators also gives me a way to learn more and become a better teacher. One of the amazing strengths of technology is that it allows a Professional Learning Community (PLC) to interface and collaborate in a way that has not been available before. I have used this feature as a way to grow as a professional and help those I serve as a leader in this Ed Tech capacity.
The challenge of teaching technology to teachers is helping to assuage the fears and concerns that they will never be able to keep up with the changes mentioned earlier. I believe that one of the functions of school as we move forward in technological progress will be to teach students how to use the technology in responsible and effective ways that will make them successful people when they leave school. Often devices and social networking is simple enough to use that students will utilize them without guidance.
I think of an analogy to explain this idea. A piano is pretty straight forward as to how to make it work. You touch a key and sound comes out. You hit it harder, the sound is louder. Touch the key softer, the corresponding sound is softer. Push down on several keys at once, the sound changes and different tones are revealed. Someone could easily figure out this much by touching the piano without any guidance at all. How does one make music? This step would require some guidance. I think of this with students and technology. They can figure out how to use Twitter on their own or with little peer guidance. They will need someone to teach them how to utilize Twitter in a research capacity to find primary source information for a project. They will need someone to teach them how to use an app like Evernote to synthesize learning. They will need someone to teach them about security concerns that arise from posting private information online. Some fear that technology will make human teachers obsolete. I think it will make human teachers more valuable than ever.
Parents are responsible for helping students to become successful just as they have always been. However, an important role of the teacher is to help students and parents see the academic role of technology. This partnership is more important than it has ever been. Teachers are leaders for students, other teachers, and parents. In assuming this role, we have a responsibility to be as literate with technology as we are with grammar and mathematics. We must be critical thinkers who implement thoughtful use of technology in classrooms where it enhances and does not distract from the learning. In order to effectively implement thoughtful use, we must know what is available. Collaborating with peers and other stakeholders in education will allow us to be more effective in understanding the resources available and our role in teaching technology.