Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Beauty of Ownership and Belonging: Elementary Tech Teams

For this school year our fourth and fifth graders have the opportunity to participate in elective Fridays that change each quarter. Each fourth and fifth grade teacher and out of classroom educators then decided what elective they would like to lead based on their passions. Options included things like drumming, woodworking, crocheting, volleyball, and creative writing. These elective opportunities gave me the possibility of having an elementary tech team. You can look here to see what was taught weekly to the students and you can look here to see the end results that the students created this last quarter. The main point of this blog goes beyond the great resources the students made for our school community and it's more about how it made them feel in the process.

About halfway through this quarter I received an email from the Georgia Educational Technology Conference that included a submission link to be a part of the student showcase at the GaETC conference November 2-4th. Because this group of educators really seemed to be taking ownership of this new "tech team" concept, I chose to apply. Meanwhile, every single week our students were learning how to be technology troubleshooters and they were being empowered to be "go to" people in their classrooms.

How exciting it was to learn that our students were chosen from a competitive group of applicants to be one of the 24 groups to share in the student showcase! The pressure was on to create good resources to share at this conference. Every week, the students would earn a new badge (in the form of a sticker) to show they had completed the needed steps in the process of becoming a certified tech team member.

On the last Friday of the quarter all the students received a tech team t-shirt and their final "certified tech team member" badge/sticker. Then on Wednesday of the next week, 8 of the 13 students got on a bus at 6:45am to travel from Chattanooga, TN to Atlanta, GA to "present." The student showcase is set up in the main hallway of the convention center and any educator can stop, ask questions, and learn about what the students are sharing.

Right before our day started I sat all 8 of my students down and said, "you can sit behind this table and be bored all day or you can go out and ask people if they want to know about your tech team and get this most out of this day." Our team became little salespeople, pulling people over to learn more...I mean, who can say "no" to a cute 4th/5th grader? I was so proud of them all. I only wish all 13 could have attended!

These students that chose to be a part of the tech team because that is what they are interested in, got to take part an educational technology conference and that was an amazing experience for them. They learned first hand the beauty of educational collaboration and communication to best meet student needs. They asked lots of questions about why teachers would choose to come to the event. There are times as an educator you try new things and you think "it was good but I should have done a) or b) or maybe c)." And occasionally you try new things and it leaves a happy little warm fuzzy in your heart because you see students rise to the occasion and grow in so many different ways. That was what the tech team did for me. I'm thankful for the joy it brought and I believe it will always be seen as a highlight of my educational career.

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