Thursday, July 10, 2014

What I learned at #ISTE2014- I am a little fish in a big pond.

I am a little fish in a big pond. I thought I was special. I thought I had the DL on how to make technology work in a school setting- to encourage, to support, to coach teachers out of their comfort zone, to show the benefits, to be honest about the limitations, and to change my K-12 world one teacher at a time. I'm not special. I attended ISTE with 14,000 educators in Atlanta all wanting to make a difference by using technology in the classroom. It was an overwhelming experience.

I am a little fish in a big pond. I saw vendors "courting and wooing" big name educators in hopes of getting endorsements for huge school districts. I sat in my room in the evening while vendors were offering special evenings for educators. I wasn't invited...It felt much like high school all over again. ;)

I am a little fish in a big pond. I realized (and knew this already), that we really aren't doing anything cutting edge at our school regarding technology.- we are adopters and I am thankful we are doing what we are doing. I was awed by Gwinnett County, Georgia's push for BYOT in elementary schools. I was blown away by the amount of Augmented Reality workshops and posters that were out there. Nothing I'm doing is cutting edge, even though it might feel that way to me because I have been a first implementor at my school.

I am a little fish in a big pond. I got a little down, maybe even mad, as I saw the technology support that these big public schools often have because of great funding. We just don't have the funding to do that type of thing at my school, even though we are the largest private school in Chattanooga. We are dependent on enrollment and supporters, and there are always other very important and needed things vying for money at my school.

So what did I walk away with after I got over my initial feelings of inadequacies and not feeling like I was as special as I thought I was or that I wanted to be?

A. I am a fan of a technology. I do not believe technology is the end to a means, I believe technology is a tool. I see the benefits as I teach- students collaborating, students engaged, students organized, teacher workloads decreased so that more one on one can take place in the classroom, immediate feedback to help teachers, parents, and students plan, teach, support, and learn. I find myself having to stand up for my love of technology in ways that amaze me, with my own co-workers and complete strangers. Teachers feel threatened by technology. I want them to feel less threatened and more supported.

B. I am a innovator. I want to be a part of things that are cutting edge. I want a makers space for students to be creative, via cardboard box models or 3d printers. I want to do things that causes students to have to answer questions that can't be googled. I want to be a part of teaching students critical thinking skills. I want to dig deeper and see what bits and pieces I've learned and heard about would best meet the needs of OUR students in the elementary school. How can we reach every student? What forms of teaching does THAT student respond best to? How can WE help that student feel like a confident learner?

C. I want to bloom where I am planted. I struggle with being content where I am, which kind of makes me a pain because I am always pushing for more. I want to be the best support as a technology coach that I can be to my fellow teachers. I want to be the best teacher of technology that I can be to my students. I want to take technology to the next level at the elementary school, but not in a fearful climate, in a way that the teachers feel supported and confident in this process.

D. I want to set goals for myself and my school curriculum. These include:

  1. Thoroughly defining what my job description is and how it can best help my school (i.e.- writing down what a tech coach looks like at CCS elementary school) and share it with my co-workers so they can feel confident in what they can expect from this role.
  2. Immerse lesson plans in digital citizenship so that my students realize technology can exacerbate a heart issue quickly. Talk about digital footprints and show grace and love to those that struggle with using technology inappropriately. Teach students to set self-discipline with the amount of time they spend with technology (and perhaps teach myself).
  3. Get keyboarding back into the curriculum.
  4. Ask for us to go BYOT in the elementary school sooner than planned with a push in 3-5th grades starting with simple classroom blogging opportunities.
  5. Find software, apps, options that gives teachers immediate feedback and students a feeling of accomplishment because of intelligent adaptive programming that differentiates to meet the needs of the student constantly.
  6. Be hands on- find "guinea pigs" that want to try something new in the classroom, to work with their strengths and build. 
  7. Incorporate project-based learning opportunities, including cross-curriculum subject matter, in order to make student learning more authentic.
  8. I want to be more flexible and openminded. To know I do not have the DL on all things technology in the classroom. I am truly a little fish in a big pond, but I want to be a rainbow fish. ;)