Over the TechEDge

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Do as I say, not as I do

What are we teaching kids implicitly?

We love new technology in schools, everyone supports it! It is expected that everyone use technology throughout their day, and teach students how to use it as well. Explicitly, we support the use of technology in our technology plan, in our policies and procedures, in the grant applications we write, and in our conversations with each other.

“If it’s so important, why aren’t they giving us time to learn how to use it?”

But what message are we really sending? Professional development focuses on literacy, math and behavior-with no training or support for how technology can be used to benefit students, teachers and families in these areas. Teachers are expected, on their own time, to seek out workshops, webinars and resources to try to figure it out on their own. The implicit message is-AYP is important, and right now the only things that matter are reading and math scores. Administrators and teachers fear for their jobs if they cannot raise test scores. There is no time to learn and take risks in the classroom setting where reading and math are concerned. There is no time to have fun learning science and social studies, and there is certainly no time to spare if the wireless network is glitch or if an entire class period needs to be devoted to learning how to use the interactive white board!

As I spend time talking with teachers about their needs in the classroom in order to integrate technology into their lessons, it is clear they feel they have no time to learn new skills, and develop new ways of teaching using these skills. Research indicates it takes three years for teachers to adopt something new, and yet ten years into the twenty-first century, there are teachers who have not adopted technology because implicitly, it is not important. If it takes three years from when it is first introduced, then we are looking at 2014.

Our 5th graders were born in the twenty-first century and will be getting ready to head off to high school in 3-4 years. What will we have taught them? Hand held devices are not allowed in school and should not be seen. You must still know how to format a bibliography by counting spaces and using caps in all the right places; you must still know how to look words up in a print dictionary, and you must still know how to do long division with paper and pencil-because that is what we test you on and that is what is important. Heck, we still expect our students to be able to write, revise and edit using paper and pencil-and do it well.

“But how do you know it works? I KNOW what I’m doing works.”

It is increasingly difficult to convince teachers to use technology, when they are seeing results raising test scores the old fashioned way-with paper and pencil practice, practice, practice. Until we implicitly support the use of technology to help raise test scores AND prepare our children for the future, we are sending a very mixed message-do as I say, not as I do. It is time for leaders to do more than say they support the use of technology in the classroom; they must make it a priority. They must allow their teachers the time they need to learn it, and plan for its use on a daily basis. They must hire reading and math consultants who are tech savvy, and they must make a commitment to educating every teacher how to use technology effectively in a classroom setting every day.

5 Minutes with Sir Ken Robinson Watch this video

AYPeducationLearninglessonsNCLBprofessional developmentteachingtechnologytestingtime

Cathy Brophy • March 27, 2010


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