Technology Integration: Are the incoming teachers really as adept as we think?

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First started on 9/8/2013:

As you may know, I am a high school teacher.  With the new school year and new rosters of students comes the NJACHIEVE initiative for teacher evaluations, integration of the Core Curriculum Standards, Student Growth Outcomes, new technology… Some would even say technology is the new frontier where incoming freshman teachers are supposed to have an advantage.   Being a teacher in today’s schools requires as much dedication, (some might say more dedication) than ever before; especially with the level of technology integration required within the Core Curriculum Standards.

I attended CCA 2013, Core Content Academy 2013, held at Rutgers New Brunswick this summer with the co-sponsorship of the NJDOE.  About three hundred of my colleagues from around the state spent 7 hours a day for a week delving into the standards, what they meant, where they were going.

What we discovered was that technology is the integral vine growing and weaving its way deep into each subject, each standard, at every grade level. Discussing, sharing, learning how we can, as a state, get up to speed to close the achievement gap and truly bring our 21st Century work to our students in our classrooms.  We listened with rapt attention ( no lie…) as the speakers inspired us to meet this challenge head on.  Workshop presenters brought us new ways to look at our teaching methods.  No book selling.  No publishing handouts.  Pure education.  Seasoned teachers thirsty to extend their skills and truly become master teachers of their craft. Gallery walks to examine others’ work.  We came away each day tired but looking forward to bringing it all home to our classrooms.

I grant you that the incoming teachers have a handle on their technology skills.  Well… they know how to text, and they know how to email, and Instagram, and Facebook.  But quite frankly, I haven’t seen any evidence of them being any more skilled at integrating technology into their teaching.

We all want technology integrated into our classrooms.  But integrating technology into an 90 minute block with adept facilitation is no small task.  (Imagine when the blocks are smaller!)  Integrating technology into a classroom of kindergarteners without succumbing to chaos… Quite frankly, you aren’t going to convince me that until my current student body (those graduating in 2013 and beyond) come into the workforce are we  going to see staff that really understand technology’s integrative capacity well enough to use from Day One.  That will be really cool!

Not only will the new staff come to us with pedagogy thoroughly and expertly infused with the proper technology at the the proper time, but the students we teach will flourish in an environment in which they have immersed themselves since… they could swipe an iPad as a toddler.

Which brings me to my friend Barry Saide.  In his blog, Barry posted, ” Technophile or Technophobe: Which Are You? ” Barry adeptly writes about the impact our subtle or mindless actions can have on our colleagues.  His writing brings to us the idea that we can mow down or motivate our colleagues and our students with a look, an intonation, or reaction.

I love when anyone takes the risk to try something new.  How cool is it when any teacher takes the risk of experimenting with a technology?  Some districts are still acquiring projectors while other districts have moved to using iPads, tablets, and phones.

I think it is very cool when teachers (regardless of their years of experience) take the risk to master the skills needed to truly bring technology into their learning environment. I also think we should be willing to understand that while our new hires grew up with microwaves, iPads, Smartphones, and GPS, we should be mindful that these tools, used skillfully from the consumer end, bring an entirely new challenge to the integration into classroom instruction.  Administrative and professional support is still needed to assist all teachers with the level of integration required by the Core Curriculum Standards.

This integration will take time, supported by resilient teachers and supportive workplaces that bring all staff members to a common pedagogical goal.

What do you think?



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