If you were to tell me a year ago that next school year I would become a technology teacher, my jaw would just about drop to the floor. Do I love technology… yes. Do I use technology often… yes. Do I blog, communicate, and collaborate with others using technology… yes. Am I a technology expert… NO!
Desks have now turned into large tables that hold tangled wires. Pencils are now keys on a keyboard. Papers that once took me so long to copy are now in "the cloud." My classroom has been flipped, and my teaching identity right along with it.
It’s February, and I am starting to get comfortable with my new role. I teach a technology rotation to 800+ elementary students… Yes, over 800 kids step foot into my classroom. I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’m catching up on the latest techie news and designing lessons that are completely paperless. My messy desk full of student papers is gone and in its place are dozens of electronic files.
Here are a few things I’ve learned as a classroom teacher turned techie teacher:
- Your students may know more than you… embrace it!
My kiddos are always showing me a new shortcut or application I didn’t know about. This is celebrated! My students continue to make my job easier! Once I introduce a new program, many students learn the ins and outs before I do.
2. Your staff, friends, and family now believe you are a technology expert!
I’m the same teacher I was last year, just surrounded by technology. I may have learned a few more tips, tricks, and troubleshoots this school year, but I am far from joining the “Geek Squad.” I’ll try to answer everyone’s techie-woes, but I’ll usually be Googling the answer first!
3. There’s so much to do, and so little time!
Technology opens up a googleplex of opportunities! I have a million projects in my head that I would love my students to do, but I only see each class once a week for 25 minutes. I just can’t fit it all in! Priorities are a must. Technology projects may take longer than expected. It's important to map out the "big lessons" and ideas you want to implement.
4. Don’t assume kids know the basics!
Just because my kids were born with an iphone in the palm of their hand doesn’t mean they know how to open up a new tab or how to use the shift key to form a capital letter. I am often teaching computer lessons that revolve around very basic computer skills. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taught a lesson on what the “enter” key is for.
5. Have clear boundaries and expectations for your students, or else!
A googleplex of opportunities means there’s a gazillion websites I DON’T want my students venturing to. I spent the first two months of school talking about digital citizenship and making sure my students knew what was safe on the internet and what wasn’t. I learned the hard way how important it is to have clear rules and boundaries when using a tech device, as well as consequences when technology isn’t used correctly. I make using technology safely a big deal because… It IS a BIG Deal!
6. Let Your kids troubleshoot on their own… Life Skills!
Did you press the power button? Is it plugged in? Can you refresh the page? Do you just need to wait for the program to load? These are all important questions that I want my kids to be asking themselves. I sometimes have to force my hands behind my back and let my students fix their own computer issues. Embrace the struggle, that’s how we grow! These kids will need to troubleshoot for the rest of their lives, right!?
7. Freedom can be a good thing!
Once ground rules are firmly established, I give kids a chance to explore! Not only is this fun, but this is how students learn about the world around them. My favorite tech lesson was the day I let 3rd - 5th graders explore Google Maps. The kiddos absolutely loved it, and I KNOW they left my classroom with a better understanding of geography. I had my second graders ask Google any question they wanted (well, not any...) and they were so excited to tell me the fun facts that they learned. Search engines allow students to learn in ways they never could before. Let your kids explore and see what new things they can learn.
And there you have it! A (in)complete list of my takeaways from my days as a tech teacher.
Do you teach tech? What have you learned about kids and technology?