As I explore the world of technology, I amazed at all the wonderful things there are for the classroom. These things weren’t available when I first started teaching so I really enjoy investigating all of this. I have started reading blogs and writing my own as well as joining the world of Twitter. Twitter is like an instant message program but it enables me to talk with people I don’t know about things that I’m interested in. Just having communication with other people in my field is inspiring and makes me excited about teaching. This is where I exposed to a lot of new technology that I never knew about and I am also learning how to use some of it.
After two weeks in Twitter and reading the blogs mentioned there, I amazed that more teachers in my area don’t use the technology that is out there. Just from my observations, it seems like teachers not in the United States and teachers in the northern part of the United States are the ones on top of the technology game. As President of the local Council for Exceptional Children chapter, I will be holding a program on using technology in the classroom. I am hoping to introduce some technology that is out there and tempt other teachers to use this technology. (See my wikispace for the meeting: http://loonyhiker.wikispaces.com/ Maybe if I can show them how other teachers are using it and what wonderful outcomes are coming from this, they will want to use it more in the classroom. I hope I can inspire and excite other teachers the same way that have been inspired. After seeing the results that other teachers are having in their classrooms, I see that teachers in my area need to get involved or we will be behind.
Maybe that is why my state is ranked almost last in the nation in education. It seems like the teachers I have taught with (in four different schools) are so reluctant to try anything new. Many are afraid of change and want to do it the “old way” because it always worked in the past. We can’t afford to take this position because I think it hurts us professionally and it hurts our students. For example, my district bought some new software (WYNN and Test Talker) and hardware (scanner) to help our special education students. They even trained us to use this but out of twelve teachers, I was the only one who used it for a year. The second year I insisted that a new teacher use it also and she did. The results were that a couple of our students who had been making straight Fs were now making Bs and Cs. I just know that it could have helped other students if the teachers would have taken the time and initiative to use it. There is also so much free technology that can be used in the classroom and our teachers need to be using it. I have heard so many times that “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t know how to do that stuff” but we can’t afford not to take the time or learn how to use these things.
I have learned that there is a lot of things out there that is available (many of it is free) and I know it will take time to learn some of it. I have also learned (through Twitter and blogging) that there are so many others out there willing to help me if I have questions or hit a road block. Just like anything else, it is easier to learn by doing, so I jumped in a tried some of this stuff and discovered most of it was pretty easy to learn. By talking to other teachers, I have found real life examples on how these things can work in the classroom. If students see there is a real life application to the things they are learning, they will be more excited about learning and retain more of the information. I have built relationships with people all around the world who have given me great ideas and hopefully I have given to them also. Students can also build relationships with students in other districts, states, and even countries. Some classes are collaborating even though they live in different countries. Talk about an opportunity for learning! To me, that is what teaching is all about. I have said it before but teaching should not be stagnant. As teachers, we need to be constantly learning new strategies and techniques in order to have a successful teaching experience.
This week I will be looking at different programs that are available to use in the classroom and hope to show you examples of how it is being used.