Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Good, er, Great Instruction - A Short Rant

I tweeted a while back that I was tired of talking about "technology integration" and really technology as a whole. We always talk about how it should be integrated but then we continually separate it out when it comes to professional development and evaluations. Granted, sometimes there needs to be a focus on a specific content area, but the more we silo our content and instructional techniques, the farther from "integration" we get.  My tweet, and I'll paraphrase, wondered when will we get to the point where we stop talking about who "integrates tech" and instead just talk about good teachers? (Too which Kelly Tenkley mentioned, why not just go for "great teachers?" Point taken.) 
Technology doesn't solve all problems. It can be a bit more problematic than a #2 pencil every now and then. Our tech director hit it on the head during a discussion tonight - technology doesn't make a teacher good. Neither does a good textbook. 
I'm fairly confident I'll be preaching to the choir here, but I'm tired of it being instruction and technology. We have to get administration to understand that it's very difficult to be a good...OK, Kelly...a GREAT teacher if you never use technology with your students. I didn't say you have to use it every minute of every day. It's not for all situations. But it does offer opportunities that a pencil and paper can't.
While we are at it, when are we going to give the kids choices in how they share their learning? Don't tell them they HAVE to use a poster for the presentation, or HAVE to user PowerPoint, or Animoto, or Prezi, or whatever else. "Here's 5 or 6 options. Got a better option? Use it. But you need to be able to explain to me a, b, and c. I'll check in with you tomorrow to see your progress."
A great teacher uses the best tools available to them at the time. That tool varies depending on your students, curriculum and learning environment. Make it a goal over the summer to find better (not new - that doesn't always equal better) ways to meet your curriculum goals and objectives next fall.


Jodie Morgenson said...

I think it takes a GREAT (and brave) teacher to be able to back off and say, "Got a better option? Use it" and possibly have a student teach their peers and/or us something. As you said in your post--I'm sure I'm preachin' to the choir here--but I think that's another aspect that makes some teachers nervous. Technology--for some teachers--is threatening because its use may mean that they are not the expert in the room momentarily. Frightening!

J Allen said...

I agree, Jodie. It takes a lot for a teacher to turn kids loose and be the "guide on the side," although we continually say that can be a huge boost to kids' learning. Thanks for your comment.

Greg Schwanke (@gschwanke18) said...

It does take great teachers to be the "guide on the side", but that is what we should strive for. Not only does being a "guide" push the students, but it also pushes us to be better teachers and model life long learning. Our goal should be to help our students become life long learners and to utilize their resources. In today's society our resources mainly revolve around technology with the increase of mobile devices.

Technology shouldn't not be all about integration. Technology should be an integral part of our teaching. Technology helps teach our students to inquire and find answers to those inquiries. Can there be learning without technology? Sure, but not as much as it used to be.

We constantly push our students to be outside their comfort zones and we do the same as teachers.

J Allen said...

I think one thing that I didn't clarify - basically taking for granted in my own mind - is that technology use is vastly different depending on age levels. This got brought up on Twitter last night by Amanda Dykes - the "5th grade +" teacher crowd is more apt to include technology in a vast majority of the day, while your Pre-K and primary teachers will utilize it for skill practice and engagement. So while I completely agree with you Greg, I wanted to throw that out also as a clarification to some of my points.
I appreciate the comment!