In a previous post we explored my biggest regret as a teacher. Now, I’d like to look at something else I would change…
If I Could Turn Back Time…
As a fourth grade teacher, I swore by the SAMR Model and I was obsessed with having my students leverage technology to engage in transformational (or, “above the line”) activities.
Soon after leaving the classroom and becoming an administrator I realized my current level of “educational technology knowledge” was unsustainable, as there was no way I could keep up with all of the current trends/devices/websites/apps since I would no longer be working hands-on with students on a regular basis…As a result, I have shifted towards becoming even more of a curriculum nerd than before. I believe investing in this area is time well spent, as what I learn will not be irrelevant or completely outdated anytime soon.
In place of the time I used to spend on edtech, I have been diving into various curriculum-related topics that I didn’t prioritize researching in-depth while I was a teacher. Some of these subjects include: curriculum design, common assessments, close reading, and standards-based grading. In all of these instances, I have been forced to think about what I did “wrong,” and how my instruction would now be different if I were to once again have my own students. In fact, in a previous post, which I wrote after reading Fair Isn’t Always Equal by Rick Wormeli, I detailed the “five changes that I would make to my assessing and grading procedures if I were to return to the classroom as a teacher.”
All of these conceivable modifications show (1) there is always room for improvement, as I truly thought I had it all “figured out” after teaching fourth grade for six years, and (2) more of my time should have been spent researching solid pedagogy, as opposed to crafting unique uses for edtech.
So, what is the lesson to be learned?
If you are “one of those teachers” who is obsessed with technology…put it down and walk away!
In fact, I challenge you to give up using edtech with your students for 15 school days (or more), except when it would be entirely nonsensical for it not to be integrated (e.g. word processing) or when it is mandatory (e.g. district mandated programs)….Instead of spending your time masterminding those flashy activities, simply convert research to practice by looking into a topic/idea a bit outside of your comfort zone and implementing it (no matter how “big” or “small” it may be).
Some research options…
Read a book (or part of one). As I have written, “I have always thought that given about 10 minutes on Amazon, it is quite easy to find the definitive book(s) and author(s) on any subject, both in and out of the field of education.” No time for a full-length book? Read something from the ASCD Arias series! Want something free, even shorter in length, and more convenient? Read some blog posts!
For those of you who decide to join the 15 Day No #edtech Challenge, let me know! Also, please share your experiences via blog comments, emails, social media, etc.
In the End
No matter how inundated we become with emerging technologies, there is still something beautiful about our students visibly benefiting from the time and effort we put into reading about “best practice” and then putting it into action.
At the end of the day, edtech should definitely not be ignored, and this is not an either/or scenario. Nonetheless, Per Michael Fullan, “Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator.” So, let’s make sure we are not shortchanging our students by putting the cart before the horse.
What are your overall thoughts on the 15 Day No #edtech Challenge? Do we need to start making more of a conscious effort to prioritize pedagogy over technology? If you are a former teacher, what would you change if you could turn back time?
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