Every Tech Coach’s Dream
Relationships mean everything in this business. Several teachers are taking it all in at the high schools in Bertie County! This is the first official spotlight in The Teacher’s Lounge and I’ve got to tell you, this man is a trailblazer. He’s the kind of teacher you pray your own child gets assigned to.
Weh’yee “West” Barkon is an ELA 9-11 teacher at Bertie Stem High School. Originally from Queens, NY, Weh’yee (prounced Way-Yee) spent most of his childhood in Detroit, Michigan. He attended East Carolina University in Greenville, NC and was connected to our school system through the Teach for America program. This is his first year in the profession, and I must say, he’s a joy to coach.
Recently, I sat down with Mr. Barkon during his planning time to chat a bit about how I could assist him in implementing the tools we’ve covered in Tech Tuesdays. When he told me that he simply needed help setting his classes up in a Learning Management System (LMS) and Gmail Groups, I couldn’t wait to help! Once we began however, my instructions took all of
ten two minutes, and he was well on his way.
Mr. Barkon told me that he was thankful for the help, and that I made him like technology more and more everyday. HUGE SMILE. I had to share my joy with the world! So I asked him to answer a few questions about his transformation in technology from the beginning of the year, to the present. Here’s what he had to say.
1. What are your personal goals for technology integration in your classroom?
Student driven learning is my ultimate personal goal in regards to technology integration in the classroom. What I’ve discovered in my journey towards technology integration is that student’s don’t like to have technology pushed on them, but would much more rather discover technology on their own. Really this isn’t exclusive to students, but in fact all people like to feel as if they’ve come up with something on their own. Knowing this, I’ve altered my role from requiring technology use in the classroom to facilitating technology use in the classroom. On any given objective, I will model to students how technology can be utilized to accomplish that objective. Instead of mandating that students use a specific type/form of technology, I leave the door open for students to be creative. Although some students choose not to use technology, what I’ve found is that the majority of students will use programs, apps, and technology in general in ways I could never have imagined! Its really quite exciting to see how eager and creative students are once they are given the liberty to choose.
2. Tell me about your biggest obstacles regarding technology infusion.The biggest obstacle in regards to technology infusion in the classroom is getting the kids to understand that although technology is a great thing and exceedingly beneficial, they cannot completely rely on technology one-hundred percent of the time. The difficult part is not so much getting them to use technology, but it’s showing them that technology has its drawbacks at times. Many students become so reliant on technology that they aren’t able to really function effectively in class when technology isn’t accessible or allowed. I believe that in order for technology to be effective it should enhance and not replace the skills you have already mastered. Being a younger teacher, this is something I have personally struggled with myself and so I can relate to students, as well as provide strategies for what I see as appropriate technology infusion.
3. How can you help shift the technology culture (for students) in your school?
I feel like as a STEM teacher and personal advocate of technology its my prerogative to make technology cool for students. More than how effective or easy to use a specific technological advancement is, my generation and the generations to follow are concerned with how “cool” the technology is. I believe that if I, or any of my colleagues, want to help shift the technology culture in the school, we have to make it both relevant and cool for students. We can do this by showing them the uses of technology that extend beyond the walls of our school. Additionally, we need to use the unique innovations of top tech giants in our classroom because many times these companies are the ones who determine what is “cool” and what isn’t.
4. How does technology coaching make things easier for you and other new teachers?
Technology coaching is not only a constant reminder of the importance of technology, but it’s also a constant motivation. In short, the coaching that I receive inspires me to inspire students. It’s the realization that the interconnected world we are progressively moving into is going to be dominated by technology. This in turn magnifies the importance of infusing technology into daily instruction. I personally like how my tech coach views herself as a facilitator and models the technology we should be teaching our students. This method of coaching serves as the perfect example of how teachers can coach students in the classroom. Coaching reminds me that without teaching technology on a daily basis I am not properly preparing my students for their futures and therefore I am ultimately not properly doing my job.