Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Name is "Innovative Technology" and I've been around a LONG TIME

"I've been around a very long time. Perhaps I was a stick to be used as a walking staff for Adam of biblical fame. Later I came in the form of fire and changed the dynamics of cave life. I then became a pencil- a sliver of graphite stuck inside a slender piece of wood. Most lately I've been a handheld computing device known as a tablet; but watch out, my future of 'wearable technology' is on the rise and ready for change!"

All these innovations have things in common- they have revolutionized the way we accomplish things. They have eased a strain in our life. They have opened the door to something new. 

With any new innovation, people find different sides of the fence to take. Do the benefits outweigh the detriments? Shall we be early or late adopters of the innovation? 

We question, we criticize, we applaud, we adapt, we balance from good to bad and back again in our thoughts of "Is this really a good and helpful thing?" All of these processes are relevant for each of us to get to a point where we decide "is this acceptable or not?"

Most inventions that are labeled "innovative technology" end up revolutionizing the world- some slowly, some so quickly our head spins.

While most of us probably don't know someone that sees the use of a pencil as a bad thing, there was a time when it was concidered a novelty. Most people couldn't read or write anyways and there were questions about whether it was a good idea for the "common man" to have these skills.

What is it we fear about tablet devices? Lack of control...certainly. But even deeper than that is a fear that resonates inside of the heart of a teacher...what if I'm no longer seen as a master of this subject? What if the world no longer needs people who are super knowledgable of subject areas? What if what we have strived to be good at, proven to have an above average understanding of, can all be ascertained from a days worth of well written 3 minute videos on YouTube? What becomes of us?

This is one of my underlying fears, I'll be honest. Two years ago my classroom went away and now I work hand in hand with teachers integrating the technology I used to teach all by myself. In theory, if I'm truly good at what I do shouldn't I eventually teach myself out of a job when all my co-teachers become proficient integrators of technology without my help? 

What must I do to protect my livelihood? What must I do to stay relevant? ADAPT, ADOPT, LEARN, STAY ABOVE THE EDGE OF NORMALLY ACCEPTED PRACTICE. I must morph into what the world of education needs based on the tools at hand. I must take opportunities to learn more, dream more, do more. My overall goal is to meet the needs of my students in the best way possible. I must remember that. Are changes scary for me? Yes. Are changes necessary for me? Always. Do I sometimes miss the safety net of my classroom? Often. Can I be a benefit to the education system of the future? Without a doubt. Does that mean technology is the only way? Never. 

We need to be open to new ideas and new innovations always. After recently visiting an innovative STEM school in the area, one thing stuck with me that the principal of that school said, "I don't hire people that I know are good with technology. I hire teachers that are excellent in the classroom but are always thinking "there's got to be a better way to _________."" 

I want to be a great teacher always looking for great ways to teach. I want to be open to innovative technology. I want to find the appropriate balance to meet needs well but not just for the sake of using technology. I want to use the best practice regardless of the tools before me. I want to feel confident and trusted as a teacher. I want to be respected for the knowledge I do have- I need this from my students, parents, peers, and administration. I want to be a help and a benefit as a teacher. At the end of the day I want to know I made a difference with the tools at hand.