Of course, I don’t dare to presume to possess either the salience or the eminence of the founders of the original twelve-step program, but as the majority of my gig as an instructional coach involves supporting the gradual integration of technology into the curriculum, it occurred to me that a structured and guided approach was already being implemented by some teachers with whom I work. It also occurred to me that an audience of teachers most likely want to hear tried-and-true advice from real-time educators. And hence this blog post was born.
When it comes to educational technology and 21st-century learners, it seems that we allow the fear of technology--or the fear of failing--to impede our own progress. While we’ve all been reluctant adopters at one point or another, we can’t let our fear of failing get in the way of our students’ path to success. Perhaps the best way to transform trepidatious teachers is to furnish a set of guidelines--our own twelve steps.
The following teachers in my district (Wendy, Mary, and myself!) have taken steps to introduce technology into their curriculum--sometimes fearfully and sometimes confidently--and what they hope to share are their personal experiences and own collaborative twelve steps to success. Because like any solid twelve-step program, it’s the shared stories that help us persevere and eventually triumph.
Q: Do you remember the first time you tried a new tech tool with which you weren’t familiar?
- I remember using the CPS clickers; they were very difficult to set up and figuring out how to use them, so I didn't use them again for a while. I was disenchanted because it seemed too hard. But then something better came along and I tried that. You have to keep trying to find something that works. (Mary)
Q: What’s your approach for introducing a new educational technology tool?
- My philosophy is to leap before I look; think later. The benefit of this is that by taking risks and finding out things together, it breathes new energy into teaching and learning. We learn from our mistakes, so nothing is a risk when you learn from it. I never find myself saying “I wish I hadn’t done that.” Not knowing how to do something never prevented me from trying it. Any risks I've taken were either a learning experience or a success; never a failure. We need to remember we’re doing this for our students. When you’re vulnerable, you’re showing your students that you’re a learner, too! Leaping makes us all learners. (Wendy)
Q: What’s your philosophy: educational technology tool or purpose first?
- Oh, I’ve always been a tool-first teacher, and I realize that causes curriculum leaders to clutch their pearls in horror, but I’m such a tech tool junkie! I subscribe to at least ten blogs, so I’m never at a loss for new things to try. However, instructional design is my passion, so once I find a new tool to test out, I adopt the SAMR approach with it and find a way to integrate it into something we’re already doing. (Stephanie)
Q: Can you share a recent story of technology integration in the classroom?
- Because my students use apps like Tellagami, Seesaw, and PuppetEDU, they’ve been invited to go into other classrooms and grade levels as tech leaders. When the students take leadership roles, it boosts their self-esteem. We have a growth mindset in our classroom: we believe that the brain can grow and change by taking on challenges, and that our classroom is a safe place to make mistakes. (Wendy)
- I was recently invited by a Kindergarten teacher to introduce Seesaw--a digital journaling tool--to her students. Now, I’m a big believer that our 21st century students are intuitively tech-savvy, but I have to admit that I was blown away by how quickly they figured out screenshots, audio, and video with very little adult direction. Once they completed their assignment, we let them play in the digital sandbox, and their creativity was insanely astounding. I wish I had recorded them as they discovered and created. It’s a much-needed reminder that learners today are much, much different than they used to be. (Stephanie)
Q: What advice would you contribute to a 12-Step Program for EdTech Anonymous?