Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Classroom Technology Integration

My Love-Hate Relationship with Classroom Technology Integration

By Brandee Ramirez

Schools are experiencing the greatest cultural shift in 21st Century learning: the technology integration in the classroom. Do we have clearly defined goals and standards? Sure. Are there evidence-based practices to pull ideas from? Of course. Is there a “best” or “perfect” way to integrate technology? It doesn’t seem so.

Still, we’re all working to find the best use for these tools and discovering how they can positively impact our students. I love it and I hate it. I struggle to make the best use of what I currently have while still seeing and planning for the possibilities of the future. It’s fun. But it’s not necessarily easy.

I recently surveyed my colleagues to see if I’m the only one who feels this way. I wondered not just what they were doing with technology, but how they feel about it. I asked:

Is it working?

Are you seeing a difference?

Do you feel successful?

The common denominator was that to do it right—to really make it work seamlessly in the classroom—is a struggle.

When it does work, it’s fantastic; there’s increased enthusiasm, engagement and excitement. But it’s not always clear how to get there. Techniques evolve, lesson plans change and even plan B falls apart sometimes.

“When it does work, it’s fantastic; there’s increased enthusiasm, engagement and excitement.”

In my 16 years as a teacher and Digital Learning Coach, I’ve learned that sometimes you have to let it go, be free to experiment, and simply learn from the experience. Despite this monumental shift, it’s not all about the technology; it’s about you, the teacher, and what you do with what you have—now, more than ever before, you have to watch, listen, reflect and adjust on the fly.

I’ve learned that this is what using classroom technology integration is all about, experimenting and discovering. I love that, even when I’m most frustrated.

How can you turn your frustration into meaningful integration? Professional development.

On a scale of 1 to 4, nine out of ten teachers rated the technology training they received as “excellent.” However, the biggest hurdle is that much of the training takes place over the summer or during their personal time. Attendees prefer to see professional development embedded into their workday with classroom observations, coaching and reflection time.

JOTThe district I work for has taken these concerns into consideration and are working to bridge that gap. They try to provide professional development on minimum days or plan JOT (just one thing) sessions to increase knowledge and technology integration.

If you don’t have the time for a structured professional development course, host a JOT session in your school with this lesson structure:

  • Lesson #1: Focus on one thing at a time, with an emphasis on doing the work, not just talking about it.
  • Lesson #2: Provide time to reflect on the work.
  • Lesson #3: Expect and embrace mistakes or lessons that don’t go as planned. That’s how the learning takes place.

Remember: It’s not about the technology. It’s about the commitment on the teacher’s part to learn and experiment. Technology can’t fix bad teaching. It can enhance the best practices already in place.

Learn about your fundraising Read-A-Thon at Learn2Earn.

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