Having just received an email from someone starting a new “technology” position in their school, they asked me what advice I would give. I shared the following advice:
My only suggestion for you is to start from the curriculum and work backwards from there, not try to force technology into the curriculum. If teachers can see a new and better way to teach, they are way more open to it. If technology is forced without them seeing the value, it will be a struggle. Obviously, relationships are crucial to this position as well, so just always focus on starting with teacher strengths, not deficits.
Relationships in every position in education are non-negotiable. Build them, and you can do anything. Don’t build them, and you will struggle to do everything.
But I am struggling with the idea of “tech” positions lately. The focus is often “how do I get technology into the classroom” as opposed to starting with, “How do I make learning better and deeper for those I serve?” Too often, we look at all of the flashy tools and try to figure out how to implement them, making technology an addition to learning, as opposed to starting with the curriculum and showing the value to improve opportunities. Technology use is rarely mandated in any document. Deep learning though should be everywhere.
If you start with the curriculum and move backward from there, a teacher is more likely to see the value in how it connects with the work that they are supposed to do. This is why I have focused on innovation (new and better ways) in learning.
Instead of asking, “How do I fit this technology into the curriculum?”, start with, “What are you working on coming up in your class that you would like to try to improve?” This makes a connection directly to the work, not trying to add something for the sake of justifying your job.
It is imperative that we understand we cannot add more time or stuff to a teacher’s plate. What is necessary is to think about how we make the best use of the time we already have.
Deeper will always be better than surface level learning, and I don’t know one educator who would fight that notion.
Don’t add. Make better.
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