5 Tips and Tools for the Tech Terrified Teacher

I left the classroom in September to pursue my interest in education innovation and technology. It saddens me that I had to leave the classroom to pursue these interests but while I was in the classroom, I found myself overloaded with responsibilities. At points I felt that my teaching practice was confined to my city, my school, or worse, the four walls of my classroom. I just didn’t have the time to think outside of my city, or to learn new things and that was starting to scare me. It has been an interesting journey filled with education conferences, Skype sessions with teachers across the country, and talks with various EdTech startups. One of the key ideas I have learned through my research over the past few months is that there is a great divide between EdTech entrepreneurs and educators. The essential question I find myself asking all the time is: “How can we merge the two?”

There are two kinds of teachers today, the tech guru and the tech terrified. During the first panel at the NY EdTech Mashup on April 30th, Rhena Jasey exemplified the exact teacher that entrepreneurs need to target: the tech terrified teacher. Many educational events appeal to educators who are already interested in technology. What about the larger population of teachers who live in fear of it?

Rhena shared about how intimidating and overwhelming it was to be in a room full of “techies.” The idea of incorporating technology into the classroom is daunting for teachers like Rhena, who have never had an office job or been expected to use technology to boost efficiency. I know this because I was one of these teachers for a long time. I lived in fear of Smartboards and the laptop cart because I knew that even the smallest malfunction could throw off my lesson, leading to potential chaos amongst my students. I felt incredibly frustrated when an admistrator asked me to use a new website, software program or device in my classroom.

Over the past two years, I have gone through a transformation process. Luckily, I feel much more comfortable in the tech space these days, but I haven’t forgotten the tech terrified teacher-friends I have left behind, and I want to do everything I possibly can to support them. Being a great teacher looks very different in the 21st Century and there is no reason that as our world evolves, our teachers can’t evolve with it. That doesn’t mean “no more pencils or crayons,” but it does mean finding a place for using technology to captivate students. As always, balance is the key.

5 Tips for the Tech Terrified Teacher

  1. Remember, it’s not about you! Your discomfort with technology impacts your students’ futures. Teachers need to be preparing students for the world we live in today. So many jobs are dependent on a basic understanding of technology. Always ask yourself, “am I teaching something that is obsolete, or something that will help my students in the future that lies ahead?”
  2. Don’t resist your tech guru teacher-friend: It is difficult to ask for help but partnering up with a tech guru teacher-friend can provide a support system that can help ease your transition from tech terrified to tech curious.
  3. Realize it’s okay if you are not in control: In reflection, I realize that a major reason that I resisted tech for so long is because I feared what would happen if I was no longer in control…but it is okay if the tech malfunctions. In fact it can lead to some pretty teachable moments.
  4. Let your students teach you something: Newsflash – if you think you are the omnipotent force in your classroom, think again! Kids know a lot these days and it can boost their confidence and engagement if you call on students for support.
  5. If you find a product you like, ask someone from the company to come visit – Tech startups want you to use their products so most likely if you send an email, they will answer any questions you have or maybe even come visit your school to teach you how to use their product.

 

5 Simple Tech Tools for the Tech Terrified Teacher: A starting point

  1. Get a Gmail account! This may sound silly but once you have a Gmail account for your email, you begin to feel more comfortable with the Google way. This will pave the way to using Google Docs, surveys, and other fun tools to make you more efficient in your classroom.
  2. Figment – For those of you who teach ELA, reading or writing, Figment is a fun and easily accessible tool. It is an online community of young writers. The educator feature allows teachers to create private groups where students can interact and offer peer-to-peer feedback on their writing.
  3. TEDedThere are a few options for educational videos these days including Khan Academy, YouTube for Teachers and TEDed, which launched recently. TEDed offers visual videos made by teachers and animators.
  4. BrainPOPHas engaging videos in a variety of content areas but I particularly recommend this tool for math teachers.
  5. Mentormob This tool allows you to curate content from the Internet into an engaging playlist that you can share with your students. The interface is hip so it is great for middle school or high school students. You can click on each track in the playlist to go back to the original source. I use this tool to support students in strengthening their research skills.

Until we actively start addressing the discomfort that teachers like Rhena feel in the edtech space, we will not be successful in moving our teachers or students into the 21st Century. We need to work on finding ways to support the teachers who feel intimidated by technology so I’ll end with two questions:

1. Dear Tech Terrified Teachers: What can we do to support you?

2. Dear EdTechies: How do you do outreach to tech terrified teachers and engage them?

 

Comments (63)

  1. Describes my school perfectly. I think I’ll distribute the article there.

    Here’s the problems that I think contribute to tech-terror:

    1) Rote learning. This is, unfortunately, is the only way of learning many people know. Unless they have the _exact_ details on how to accomplish a task (where to enter the password, which button to press, etc.), they feel they will not be able to do it. When learning by rote, the effort goes not towards understanding an interface, but towards scribbling in the notebook. As a result, they are powerless when the notebook is lost, powerless when needing to accomplish something not in the script (e.g. fixing a simple malfunction, or using a new feature). This also makes the user blind to exploring additional features, or learning on their own.

    2) Tech-laziness. Often arises from the inability to learn in other ways than by rote, but I think the culture at the DOE is a contributing factor. The attitude is somewhat of a “If they want me to use it, they’ll send someone to train me how to use it”. The thought to explore the software on their own doesn’t even cross the user’s mind.

    3) No information lookup skills. Google is your friend, people! 75% of the reasons people think I am a tech wiz is because I can use Google effectively.

    • Thanks for reading and sharing D.T. I agree with you that risk-taking and exploration definitely contribute to the fear-factor behind using tech in the classroom. It is important to develop an understanding of the fact that even those of us who know how to use it will encounter malfunctions and have to think on our toes. As for tech-laziness, I think its there for some people. Although I would like to see more training for teachers. It is challenging to know where to start. You are right that teachers should try exploring new tech on their own but it can be daunting if you barely know how to use google. There needs to be better training for sure. Lastly, I could not agree more about Google! I am a firm believer that you can teach yourself anything if you know how to read and how to Google:)

  2. Marisa, thanks for the article. What do you think of products like planbook.com – how can we get teachers to see this is a very powerful and simple tool that will save lots of time.

    • Planbook is one tool that teachers can use to save time. There are a ton of projects like Planbook out there right now that can boost efficiency…if teachers get proper training and customer support is there. Tech only saves time for people who know how to use it properly, otherwise it can be incredibly frustrating. I speak from experiences of trying to playtest products without proper training.

  3. I feel that I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m not tech terrified. However, the school that I was excessed from didn’t have smartboards and only a few teachers had access to LCD projectors which limited the possibilities of using technology. I did take a course in using the smartboard even thought I didn’t have the opportunity to use one.
    As a person who didn’t grow up using computers, the one way that other teachers can help me is to be patient. It takes me longer to learn new computer programs. I also find writing computer programs very difficult because the logic of computer language is very foreign to me.
    It also helps if people don’t assume that anyone over 50 is incapable of learning new technology.

    • I’m so happy you wrote in. The fact that you are using a computer to read about technology and engage in conversations surrounding the topic proves your point. People of any age can learn to use tech, given the right training or in-house support (a buddy teacher, etc.) I wish that you were able to attend a class for tech that you actually had access to, that would have been a better use of time. Being patient is important…even when you become pretty savvy. One thing I will say is that even if your school doesn’t offer a ton of tech options, there are so many projects that are beta testing for free right now…especially web-based products that you can try out for free. If you are looking for something specific and don’t know where to start, feel free to write to me on EdGeeks.com and I’ll do the best I can to help you out. You would be amazed – there are products for EVERYTHING!

    • That’s it right there- I NEED patience! Many teacher simply need more patience and less of an attitude from those more tech proficient. That is what would help immeasurably. And calling us tech terrified is not helpful. I am NOT terrified, i am asking for help and what I keep getting instead is a list of things I should do – half of which I have never heard of and don’t understand, let alone understand their value. So here is an idea, why don’t I tell you what I’d like to teach and my lesson plans and how about you show me how each of those things on your list would enhance the student’s leaning and then SHOW ME (more than once because just showing once is not teaching- even with adults) how to do these things.

      • You are NOT Tech Terrified if you are reading articles like this, asking for support and being resourceful so I apologize if I made you feel that way. I’ve worked with a lot of teachers who were super resistant to anything related to tech, even support.
        You bring up two points that I hope many readers take note of: A) Less attitude from those who are more proficient at B) Show me, don’t tell me. AND SHOW ME MORE THAN ONCE! Thanks for reading and sharing – I’m quite interested from hearing more from teachers like yourself who want to learn but feel frustrated with the system.

    • Judith,
      I applaud you for your efforts!
      I too was in a situation where SmartBoards were available but not to me personally because I was a foreign language teacher on a cart. I went into classrooms equipped with SmartBoards but was only able to use them as projector screens for my PowerPoints and even that was difficult when colleagues had their laptops connected and felt it an intrusion for me to want to use the technology we had available for our students.
      Well, I attended several SmartBoard training presentations at staff development conferences and was not able to use much of what I saw, however now that I’m in a different system and I have both a classroom with a SmartBoard and a techie friend, I remember some of the things I saw being done and although I don’t know how to do them right away, we can figure it out, so the effort and time investment is worth it and shows commitment to our students.

  4. Pingback: 5 Tips and Tools for the Tech Terrified Teacher | EdGeeks

  5. Believe me, even techies have nightmares about having technical issues during an important presentation! Learning how to troubleshoot tech issues can be tough, but you’re right–having a tech savvy friend help you along makes all the difference in the world.

    • That really is the worst feeling – worrying about tech failing, and you’re right, it is prevalent even for those who are “techies!” It happened to my techie friend the other day at a photo event. I think the best thing teachers can do besides leaning on a friend is to always have a backup plan. I stopped feeling nervous about tech malfunctions when I figured out that I had to always have a simple Plan B for my students in case of a user error. In fact, I just always incorporated it into my lesson plan “If tech fails, we resort to ____________.”

    • Leticia,That was a great response, eseilpalcy since you were temporarily thrown off by the AVID question. I wouldn’t stress to much about the delay; this time is extremely busy for high school principals because of graduation. Thanks for the question and your response. I will enter you in for the June drawing for the Road to Teaching book. Of course, I’ll add your questions/answer to our growing list. Good luck in your job search!

  6. Pingback: Tech-Terrified Teachers — The Rogue Scholar

  7. My problem? Time and money. I find it difficult to learn and implement new technology during the school year when I am busy with all the tasks and volume of homework I have (not to mention my helping own children…) I simply cannot afford an iPhone, and am hoping for a grant to get an iPad to use in the classroom. I AM over 50, not terrified at all, but just need more time and money to stay on top of the emerging technologies

    • I have completely been there – time and money are definite obstacles. The hope for time is that once you understand how to use a certain tech, it can make your work more efficient. If you’re serious about funding, email me and i’ll try to direct you to some grants that might help. There is money out there, its an issue of finding it.

  8. I just spent an hour looking at BrainPOP. It was a really engaging, fun site; a perfect way for me to begin to use more technology in my classroom……….then I looked at the prices………

    • I just tweeted that at BrainPOP -lets see what they say. Also, I usually do a few things when I have issues with funding:
      1. Email the company or call and ask for options
      2. Do the trial first to see if I love it
      3. Ask/beg administration for funding
      4. Call the company and offer a barter system – I will use your product with my students and we will offer monthly feedback to you – companies LOVE this!! They’ll give ya almost anything for free:)

    • From Twitter: “Gameup is a great way to integrate BP into classroom and I think it’s free.”
      “Thanks for the shout-out – and yes, GameUp is free!” Maybe try this!

  9. When computers first came to be in the classroom,one or two of course, I asked one of my fifth students whose father was into computers, to help me and the rest of the students with the computers.
    He and his father were very happy to help us.
    I will never forget that student who, I hope, still remembers me!

  10. Nice article Marissa! As a retired teacher, psychologist, and K-12 computer coordinator I have one more tip to add: Technology is a dynamic, rapidly changing field and teachers should have the mindset that they will need to adapt as new programs and hardware are introduced.

    • Yes Ron, agreed. I just got back from the Flipped Conference and had that same thought the entire time. Thanks for making the piece stronger!

  11. DT, I’d like to add to your comment that “to explore on their own doesn’t cross their mind”
    For teachers, I believe a main issue is time constraints. As a retired teacher who subs and volunteers, I am concerned about how much more is on (staff &)teacher’s plates. I know: “short term pain, long-term gain,” applies, but “time use” is a factor we can’t ignore.

    • Time constraints, particularly in this age of accountability is definitely a huge challenge. I have been there, writing IEPs and progress reports AND PLANNING all at the same time. I guess my worry is when I see a room with a device that is not being used when I know that if the teacher just turned it on, they would have the skills to figure it out. I speak only of my own experiences and relationships with teachers but do not by any means disagree with you on the time issue – its very very real.

  12. As a tech-terrified teacher, I need training in the basics of how to use new equipment or programs and what it can be used for in the classroom at my grade level. I feel very uncomfortable just trying to play with it and learn on my own, since I don’t know even know the basics. I don’t like taking the same training as more tech-savvy persons because I feel very dumb and self-conscious. This hinders learning. There should be seperate trainings/workshops for different skill levels.

    • Nancy, you are brilliant. Imagine differentiated instruction for PD days…wouldn’t that be nice! While I may not be able to change your school, i’m happy to help you personally in any way I can. I agree wholeheartedly with what you said and am happy to help. Feel free to email me!

  13. Thanks for the article. My goal recently is to incorporate tech into my curriculum, AND for my kids (2 are in elementary), too! I’m not tech savvy nor am I terrified…but I get worried that with all the tech prepping for a class, something goes wrong and the lesson goes down the drain….BUT I am working it…just takes practice and being comfortable in it, right? ;)

    • You go girl! What a fantastic goal, and I love your can-do attitude. Make sure to read Charles’ comment too as he reminds us that even the tech professionals get anxious over using tech:) Yes, it takes practice and being comfortable (which comes really quickly if you let it). It also takes always knowing your information. The tech is just a means to present the info. If it fails, you know what you’re teaching, so in essence failure of tech can be scary in the moment, but you should always have a plan b anyway. Keep me posted on how it goes!

  14. I could not imagine living without the internet! I don’t even watch TV anymore. You can find out anything you want and connect to other people. I love exploring TpT (Teachers pay Teachers) and seeing all of their creative ideas. Teachers you can get a lot of free materials [http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/] here for all grades and subjects. You need to take time to explore and learn all of the tools available. Ask someone who knows about computers to help you when you have a question or find the answer online. It does take time but every minute is worth it. Now you are thinking, oh she is young and grew up with computers. The fact is I taught for 35 years and I am retired. I am 62 years old and when my granddaughter had to do a PowerPoint on solar power this year in ninth grade, I was the one who helped her. I taught myself by learning online. If you’re a teacher, you can learn to use technology – good luck!

    • Anne, you are fabulous. Thanks for being an inspiration for us all! If you would be interested in writing a blog post for me, email me!

  15. I am a tech-terrified teacher, and I want some understanding, and some training! I did not grow up with computers (and didn’t even have them in college or beyond). Learning by rote is the only way I can learn until I become comfortable with a program. Once I learn it, I no longer need the notebook! I’ve got it! I need to learn that way because my district seems to offer the same training (if any training is offered at all) to the techies and the tech-terrified teachers. That kind of training would be like teaching students who are reading 3 levels above their grade level, and those who need remedial reading in a whole group session. It won’t work for the kids, and it doesn’t work for the teachers! We tech-terrified teachers can learn, but we need the correct teaching. It is hard to believe that you have to tell teachers that!

  16. I am middle of the road. Had a classroom for 8 years with a smart board, but the desktop was so old it couldn’t support the program to run it! (Yes, I am NYC DOE). EVERY smart board training I have ever been to is one leader and one board were the facilitator stands there for 2 hours showing us cool things and making vocabulary words dance on the screen, but I Have NEVER had the chance to figure out HOW to do that! The PD we had last week was the same, plus most of the things we were shown were glorified matching columns which are forbidden in my school as they have NO RIGOR!

    My fear of tech failing mid lesson is not chaos from kids, but a “U” from an administrator for not being prepared.

    • I wish I had an answer for you – I have some ideas for sure, but no answer. You are right, differentiated instruction is necessary for teachers too, especially when tech is new for us. I would recommend that if you have a particular product, call them and ask them to come “tutor you”. You would be surprised how many will actually do it. Also, feel free to reach out to me anytime – i’m working on developing an action plan for supporting exactly this issue. also, i just tweeted “My fear of tech failing mid lesson is not chaos from kids, but a “U” from an administrator for not being prepared.” -what a quote.

  17. I love to travel the world and share research about various subjects in Early Childhood Education. I have an old I-pad and a new I-phone and I’m over 70 years old. As I learn about successful techniques around the world, I want to share them with our teaching staff, but they aren’t ready for new ideas or world events. When I sub in the classroom, the students are ready to try to identify currency countries, talk about new tech inforation, discuss i-phone usage, etc. It’s seems to me it’s the staff that seems to be outdated and yes terrified of change/updating.

    • Keep doing what your doing because its pretty darn amazing. I am so impressed – you truly show us that age is no barrier to technology!

  18. This is excellent! There’s a reference in EdWeek’s “Lessons of a Century” that says “My teachers and I do not know what to do with this freedom. It challenges and frightens us. I fear we have come to love our chains.” These are the words of a Principal regarding the Eight Year Study from 1932-1940, but certainly apply to the issue of tech-phobic teachers today. Great links and references for this pre-service teacher. Thank you!

    • Chains…what a great analogy – isn’t it terrifying how cyclical trends can be. This is so appropriate and relevant to today. Thanks Mary

  19. I’d love to incorporate more useful technology into my teaching, but I am so short of time that it’s hard to justify neglecting other required duties to learn it. Likewise, all the tech-savvy teachers and coordinators are too overworked to give me any help. I was given a digital presenter at the start of last school year and told by the school’s tech coordinator that she didn’t have time to tell me how to hook it up to my computer. One of my fellow teachers had her husband come in to hook it up and show me how to use it.

  20. Thanks for the article, comments from others and suggestions for tools to try. It is VERY difficult to carve out the time to find good tech tools then teach yourself how to use them especially during the school year – most of the time, it doesn’t happen but you all have renewed my commitment to keep trying.

    • You are NOT alone. Reach out anytime by emailing me.

  21. Thank you for the suggested sites. I knew of only one (TEDed) and hope to become more familiar with the others while I have time this summer. I have finally let go of the feeling of needing to be in control of tech in my classroom and have let the students show me more. We have enjoyed exploring together and love our new closed social network for collaboration, edmodo.com.

  22. Wow! This conversation is so timely for me. I am taking a college class right now that involves a presentation. I have always slid by because we worked in groups and someone else in my group would always handle the computer part. I am so outside my comfort zone right now, but I am grateful, grateful, not happy, about being forced into figuring this out. This situation has also made me more aware of my lack of using technology in the classroom. Now this conversation, I want to say that I am over 50 and afraid of losing control of my classroom when I run into “technical difficulties”, but I do want to work through that fear and do want to learn how to incorporate technology into my classroom. I appreciate all the comments and suggestions above. I am a rote learner and a “by the book”, “read all the directions” type of person and so I am uncomfortable with just getting in their and trying to learn and figure things out on my own. I would like to grow in this area of learning and teaching. Keep those ideas coming, and yes, please be patient with us “different” learners.

    • I really applaud your newfound can-do attitude. Staying proactive is half the battle. We can be a model for our students by thinking, “this is a true challenge for me, but I will continue working on it.” I am so impressed. Reach out with any specific questions.

  23. there instead of “their”.

  24. As an educator who started in the early 90′s, I am far from tech savvy. I would love an opportunity to improve my skills especially over the summer break when I have the time I need to dedicate to learning something new. Unfortunately, the UFT does not offer technology classes of that sort. I need something to help me truly understand how to become totally confident on how to operate all the various technological tools and resources available in today’s tech world. I would love to know about any classes available for teachers.

    • This is a great point – I guess I’ve gone about it in more creative ways because I never wanted to pay too much for classes. Here are some fun options:
      1. Skillshare offers tech classes of all kinds and for everyone. They’re not for teachers, but they’re cheap, small group, often hands on and you network with other people learning the same skills.
      2. I email conferences or companies and ask if they can offer me a 1:1 tutorial. Sometimes my school funds my conference, sometimes the conference will invite you…
      3. Meetup.org is a fun way to connect with people who can for sure teach you what you need to know. I’m loving Meetup recently for networking and learning.
      4. Sign up for the EdSurge Teacher newsletter – its more info but super helpful.

      And of course, email me if I can help!

  25. I’m a tech-saavy Gen.Y individual who happens to be more averse to educational technology than one might expect. I hope this doesn’t come off as too negative, but here are some of the issues I commonly have with technology in the classroom:

    1. A lot of classroom technology is junk. I’ve worked at schools that have portable laptop banks that allow twenty or thirty laptops to be carted around the school. Awesome, right? Sure, until you discover that it takes some of the students twenty minutes to log on to their user accounts and begin their assignment because the school’s network doesn’t have the capacity to handle that much data that quickly. Yet this is what we’re expected to work with. I’d rather have nothing at all than something that malfunctions all the time. How do I adapt when something I’ve built my lesson around simply breaks?

    2. A lot of classroom technology is quite specialized and compartmentalized. I’m pretty versatile when it comes to technology–I can program in C++, I do all my banking online, I can excise a virus from a computer the hard way, I can set up a home network in ten minutes–but some of the time I can’t get the danged Smartboard to work. (Plus there’s another kind of computerized blackboard that I’ve encountered in some classrooms.) Notebook on the Smartboard works a bit like PowerPoint, but it’s got quirks that drive PowerPoint wizards crazy. Student response keypads come with an entirely new piece of software to decipher. I’ve seen it much better done on the college level, where professors I know can integrate student response directly into a PowerPoint slide. A bit of standardization and a bit more self-conscious design resemblance to more familiar equipment and software would go a long way. Is there any way to avoid having to start learning from scratch every time I get a new piece of technology?

    3. A lot of the kids aren’t as good with technology as we assume. I’ve found that my students’ knowledge of the technology they use every day is only about an inch deep. They know how to use it if it’s working perfectly, but if they come across a bug, they’re like a deer in the headlights. I’ve seen an embarrassing number of kids completely freak out when their lab computer asks them to do a Flash Player update or something similar. What do I do to avoid wasting instructional time when my students aren’t much more tech-saavy than my parents?

  26. Hey Aaron,
    Thanks for writing in – we need more tech-savvy Gen. Y teachers like yourself to step up and speak out on this issues or else we will not be able to advance. You bring up very valid points. Definitely doesn’t come off as TOO negative – and I really think there needs to be a platform where people like yourself can voice your opinions on existing tech and needed tech. I’m sure that even though you see issues with technology, you see value in it as well. Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with tech, but I think that a balanced approach is necessary.
    1. Agreed! A lot of it is junk indeed. I always struggled with that in my classroom too…especially when I did whole class lessons. I used to assign a super savvy student to be the “tech support” in a group for small group work because often times I couldn’t manage using the laptops for whole class activities since they were unreliable. And don’t get me started on App stores – I’m not sure who is rating these apps but I often find apps categorized as academic the just aren’t.
    2. I guess in regards to this point, it just depends where you are and what tech you’re using. I have worked in a few different settings – some have had a tech support team or specialist and in others, I felt myself wiring things in weird places just to get them to turn on. Training is a huge issue these days. Some startups are beginning to focus on this issue. The schools that will be most successful will be those schools that pay attention to the need for a tech team and strong tech training. In house training is often the best option because you all know your students and your tech.
    3. But isn’t this why we need to teach technology? I completely agree that it can be an utter frustration but teaching problem solving skills is always a challenge. I find it difficult to teach students to solve their social problems, but its not a waste of time – These kids are growing up in a world where they will need to have basic computing, typing and techie problem solving skills so I do feel like its our job to do the best we can to prepare them based on the resources we have.

    You are a rockstar for reading and taking so much time to write in…and of course for teaching when our educational system is in a moment of struggle (did I say that in a nice enough way?) I’m always interested in helping in whatever way I can so if you want to chat more or if there is any way I can help you – even if its listening to frustrations:) please feel free to reach out and email me at marisa@edgeeks.com.

  27. My delima is that our district is constantly telling us to use more technology, but they don’t tell me what or how or throw out lingo that I have no clue about. When I ask for training all I get is just play around with it! What is it and how do “play with it” When I have a question or need help trouble shooting-no is available or willing to help me. So I let kids use tech that they may know of or let the others do it the old fashion way, since computer classes are electives now and I certainly am not techie nor trained

    • The fact that your reading and writing in says that you do have an interest. Districts can be really difficult – and admin can be even worse… I taught myself a lot and asked others to teach me. I’m happy to share whatever knowledge I have with you. I would urge you to keep reaching out because even though computer classes are electives now, they wont be forever. We will all have to work together to support our kids in learning to utilize tech – and it would be really wonderful if you could become more comfortable with certain tools. Thanks for writing!

  28. Can you list the steps to getting a gmail account and what you do with your old email account?

    Can you list job opportunities for a teacher being forced to retire, but not ready because of the enjoyment in tech use?

    I have a teacher website, but am weary of linking it to hear because I am not sure what the purpose of that would be. Please comment.
    Can you tell me if it is wise to purchase a Kindle Fire, if I don’t have smartphone?

    • 1. Gmail: To get a new Gmail account, just copy and paste this link into your browser and fill in the info: mail.google.com/mail/signup
      Once you’ve set it up, you will have the option to merge your other account(s) with it. If you want to merge, I’d check out this link…they make it pretty simple https://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=164640&rd=1
      2. I guess job opportunities really depend on your specific experience and location. I am not a retired teacher so I don’t know all of the steps that occur with retirement. One thing I know is that there are opportunities with tech companies for “Consultants” or “Teacher Trainers” but that requires reaching out to individual tech companies. You might also look into becoming a coach. Again, so different depending on your strengths and location.
      3. I guess it depends what you want the Kindle Fire for. Personally, I’d rather spend my money on a smart phone and read my books in paperback but it really just depends on who you are. I have a Kindle (not the Fire, just the cheapo one) and I like reading certain books on it a lot. I use Kindles and Nooks and other Ereaders with my students and there are strengths and weaknesses. If you have more specific questions regarding ereaders or anything else, reach out and email me:) Good luck!!

  29. After 14 years of teaching 3rd gr., I’m moving to second next September. The classroom has a smart board – which I know nothing about. Could you head me in the right direction for some good tutorials so that I can learn and practice over the summer? Thank you!
    Good call on Kahn Academy. I used it with my gifted math students this year. They loved it!
    Laura

    • Firstly you will LOVE second grade! It’s so wonderful, one of my favorite grades to teach:) Secondly, getting a SmartBoard in your classroom without training really stinks! It’s one of those things that when you read about, seems daunting and when you have someone show you how to use it, you realize its not that tricky! Keep in mind, I am NOT a SmartBoard guru by any means but here are some suggestions:
      1. Rather than reading a lot, watch some videos – hearing a voice and seeing a visual somehow helps to get the point across.
      2. Check out this Scholastic Link http://www.scholastic.com/smarttech/teachers.htm – SmartExchange http://exchange.smarttech.com/#tab=0 will offer you lessons so that you can see what is out there before designing your own.
      3. The way I learned was…I found a teacher who already had a SmartBoard for a year, offered to buy her lunch in exchange for a 1:1 tutoring sesh. Best $5 ever spent:)

      Good luck!
      3.

  30. I teach ESL for adults, and the basics I need are there–great activities, 2 huge whiteboards, access to Internet, a document camera, my boombox (OMG), a storehouse of personalized practices and games, and my portable piano for songs. Our lessons are so pure, so un-technical, so interesting and personalized, very pertinent to the S’s language needs and so much fun! I have seen in my 18 years of ESL instruction that not every classroom situation (particularly one with older adults) needs lots of technology to be of great benefit.. The students are very specific in their expectations for learning English at some levels. Language labs are great, of course, for all areas of second language learning. I just think individual ESL teachers can have their own great hand-crafted classroom materials that help their students reach their goals.. I have seen technology used very badly and very well. An adult ESL class taught by a really good teacher will shine, with or without the latest applications. Just my opinion, of course. I may get cool one day.

    • Hey Bonnie,
      Thanks for commenting! I’m sure you’re already cool:) Great teaching is not something that can be replaced by technology, nor does tech make a teacher of poor quality great. Great teachers are artists who know their learners, and put engagement and student interest first! You are right about tech being poorly implemented sometimes – I think the span of comments above will definitely act as proof:) ESL is an interesting area right now in tech because there are more startups trying to figure out how best to leverage tech for learning a new language. I would stay open-minded about using tech in your classroom, there might be something that comes along and is a great fit. That being said, tech doesn’t make a teacher:)

  31. Dear Commenters,
    I am overwhelmed at the amount of action this article has gotten in the past few days. By continuing the conversation, you are helping each other and inspiring me to develop an action plan for solving some of the problems put forth in your comments. Your words have been thought-provoking and I am so inspired.
    Stay Curious.
    Marisa

  32. Dear Marisa, thanks for this article. It’s kind of a relief knowing that the situation is pretty much similar in countries other than the small island I live in. I used to think it was more a matter of deeply ingrained culture, but now I come to think of it as an attitude that reflects the way we were taught many years ago. I have been a teacher, (I always thought of myself as an Educator) for 15 years now, and have taught (I like to think of having helped and guided rather than taught) people of different ages and different motivations and a variety of subjects really. And I left the formalised schooling institution to join Higher Academia for pretty much your same reasons. I couldn’t take in the stagnant rote I was being pulled in towards. So then I left to pursue my studies further, at postgrad level. Now I am teaching (or assisting) pre-service teachers at HE, in their journey towards becoming teachers. I notice that whether in the tech terrified or tech guru category, people have the tendency to emulate what they have themselves experienced. So the tendency is that good teachers, must have had good teachers. Similarly tech guru teachers will surely remember their own teachers who showed a sense of innovation and a flair to Educate rather than teach. Emulating past experience is easy. Maintaining control as you mention above is a huge issue which does affect the way teachers teach, because lack of control might also lead to instability.
    The challenge, in my opinion, is to get out of the rote, to push against the status quo… and once those barriers are overcome, dealing with future challenges, even dealing with different and various technologies and applications becomes much less of a terrifying experience, and becomes something more akin to an exciting adventure. What we should do as Educators, is get together in a supportive action, demanding that Admin provide the support, tools and resources, and even infrastructure, so that teachers have all the possibilities to experiment and experience a new form of learning. Thanks for your article once again.

  33. Simply talk to your students, but not only that, listen to them as well or even more. Those who are willing to to listen to you will also be willing to talk to you. Don’t let any teachable moment go by. Seize every opportunity to connect with your students! And by no means; never, ever give up. Things will get better as long as you perservere and are persistant.

  34. Hi – my name is PJ and I am tech terrified but willing to try. The VERY best thing that someone who is tech savvy can do for me is to give new websites, links, etc. that they know are safe so that I can visit them and play around on them and get comfortable with them. Nothing – I REPEAT NOTHING – is worse than being a teacher and feeling you could do so much more if you only know how. We get too little training and not enough explore time to meet the needs of the classroom and our students in a tech friendly way.

  35. Pingback: Teachers Need Access to Better Tech Training | Edvoices

  36. Thanks for sharing these excellent 5 tech tips! I found the links very helpful. The emergence of technology needs to be utilized in the classroom!

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