Home and still reeling from an awesome ten-day conference tour which featured a presentation at NC New Schools, and my first experience at ISTE in Atlanta, it finally is easy being green, Kermit! I had a chance to have lunch with one of my favorite colleagues, an elementary curriculum guru, in my opinion. Our conversation was astonishing!
Thanks to Hurricane Author, our workday was abbreviated, so we were able to go on and on about education theory, best practices, and of course, TECHNOLOGY. She’s not a techie. She didn’t go to ISTE. She doesn’t (GASP) like technology. In fact, it makes her want to cry. I tried desperately to identify with her. What she said reminded me of my experience in Calculus IB At Elizabeth City State University.
It was the spring semester of 1996. Dr. Sachdev appeared in the doorway of his office and welcomed me in for tutoring, and to retake a test that I completely bombed earlier in the week. Aside from the fact that I could barely discern what he was saying with his middle eastern accent, I just didn’t get complex mathematics. After about thirty minutes of review, he gave me the test.
I took it, and handed it in. Dr. Sachdev went back into his office to grade it. I waited patiently, hoping that I had redeemed myself. Soon he reappeared and handed the test back to me, and another blank test. He said, “Take again.” After about two more times, he looked at me with weary eyes, put his hand upon my shoulder and said, “No more for today. Go on and get some rest. We try again another day.” I cried.
If that’s how my co-worker felt because her iPad had given her a few issues earlier in the morning, my heart aches for her, and anyone else who doesn’t get technology!
Then we began to talk about Twitter in education, a very touchy subject for me. I am fully aware of how awesome it is, and how powerful the connections I’ve made on the social media platform have been. I didn’t know how to sell her on it. I didn’t know what to say to make her magically light up with the same enthusiasm I have about it. A day later, here are some things I’ve thought about to help her like technology more, and to ease her anxieties.
1. Technological savvy is part gift and part desire.
I have only recently discovered that I’m a natural techie. I used to think that my beloved Nintendo expertise, the love of digital music, teaching myself to be a digital photographer, and the ability to navigate computer software without using a manual were, well…normal. I grew up in a world where Literature, Mathematics, Science and History were the only valid disciplines. It was silly to people that I bought gobs of CDs and made my own mix tapes. It was ridiculous that as a 20 something I spent hours with Lora Croft being the ultimate Tomb Raider.
It takes a very strong desire to learn about technology and master it. I was distracted by it when I was a classroom teacher. Eventually, I found ways to integrate tech with my lessons, long before it was the “in” thing. It’s my desire that propels me to get technology, and in 2014, it’s a great time to be a techie.
2. Troubleshooting technology problems is the modern-day Scientific Method.
Anyone who can solve everyday problems can solve computer problems. Each time we make an observation that something is wrong, our minds naturally go through the Scientific Method. The thing is, technology is not Japanese (unless you live in Japan). Like any other time when problem solving is necessary you must first make an observation. My iPad will not allow me to complete this action. Then you think, why not? So, you then, guess why not. Congratulations! You just formed your hypothesis! Now you troubleshoot. You test. You experiment. If your experiment fails, you test again. If your hypothesis is wrong, you form a new one. Repeat the process until you draw your conclusion, even if you conclude that you need to call on your local tech expert to fix it. You do this until you get it right. Just like solving Calculus problems.
Think it’s a time waster? Probably at first, unless you consider this as practice. No one became a computer geek by osmosis. It takes time to learn and time to get comfortable with tech.
3. You’ve got to stop, look, and listen.
I’ve never encountered any technological problem that couldn’t be solved with a book from Amazon, a YouTube video, a how-to blog, or an iTunes podcast. Anything you want to learn about tech is out there in print, video and mp3. We read and research constantly to stay up on our game. This advice is good as well if you are trying to strengthen yourself in curriculum, religion, athletics, or gardening!
4. Techies love helping you!
Annie Sullivan put so much into helping Helen Keller, didn’t she? If you need help understanding Twitter, Pearson’s OpenClass, any of the Chromebook devices, or even your own smart phone, you can be my Helen Keller – ALL DAY. Being an Instructional Technology Facilitator is a very rewarding job. We don’t want you to feel isolated or alone as you try to digest everything we’ve thrown at you. At the same time, we love seeing the high-flying teachers take what we throw at them and run away with it! Just remember, the greatest entertainer of all time once sang, “You are not alone, I am here with you…” – Michael Jackson.
5. You don’t have to like it, but your students LOVE it!
Do you hate it when kids call us “old school?” I know I do! When I was a kid, it was old timey, or old-fashioned. It was a term we used to describe grownups who were stuck in their ways, and who did not understand the things we were into at the time. For us, it was Hip-Hop music, and music videos. “All you young people want to do is beebop and finger pop” they’d often say. Their parents gave them the same grief when they danced to James Brown, and Elvis.
History repeats itself. Technology is one of those concepts that falls into that same category. As with anything else, people hate that which they do not understand. We cannot afford to denounce tech, however. It is the future, and the future is NOW.
I probably haven’t moved my lunch buddy any more than I did at the table a few days ago. Hopefully I’ve moved someone out there just a little closer to embracing that which I love so dearly.
I’d love to know what you love and hate about tech. I’d also love to help. Don’t forget to leave a comment (above), subscribe (left), and of course, follow me on Twitter!