Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

8 Ways For Old School Teachers to Embrace Technology

8 Ways For Old School Teachers to Embrace Technology

By Irene Leiner

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The teaching profession is constantly evolving, especially with technology in the classroom. Teachers have seen the classroom change so much over the course of their careers.

Now, as apps and tools are introduced, we all have our preferences—some tools are considered a distraction, while others a life saver!

Since its introduction to the classroom, technology hasn’t stopped evolving.

First, it was smartphones and tablets, now its gaming theory and virtual reality. Adjusting to this new technology can be challenging, especially for those who prefer the traditional tools they’ve always known and loved.

With everything teachers deal with on a daily basis, change is one of the biggest challenges. Here are eight ways to embrace technology, especially if you are old school at heart.

More: 10 Organization Apps to Help Busy Teachers Stay Sane

Learn From Your Students

When you get stuck with a technological tool, a student can usually help. Using technology is something that comes naturally to them. A British survey found that 14 to 15 year-olds are the most tech-savy generation.

Even the youngest students can be confident when using technology. Six year-olds were found to have a better understanding of communications technology, than those over the age of 45.

It’s stressful when things don’t go according to plan, but when there’s a problem, a student may come to your rescue. This makes your job a little easier and the adjustment to new technology smoother. One ideas is to have students volunteer to be the tech helper of the week; when it’s time to set up or something goes wrong, they get right up to help.

Ultimately, both teachers and students can grow together in dealing with the challenges technology brings.

Be Proactive About Learning New Skills

Don’t be intimidated by technology. Instead, consider it an opportunity for advancement. Attend workshops and seek training when you can. To evolve as a teacher, you have to keep up with technology. To be competitive when entering the workforce, your students must do the same. Lead by example, as technology isn’t going anywhere.

Be proactive in anticipating change to ensure you and your students are prepared. Don’t wait until something is sprung on you to learn about it. Observe what’s going on in the world of education technology (edtech), and within your school district. When you request training ahead of time, you show commitment to personal and career development. Not only will this help you in your classroom, it will benefit your career.

More: 10 Reasons Every Teacher Should Attend an EdCamp

Focus on the Positive Aspects of Technology

Consider the benefits of technology and how it can make your job easier. Everything is going online. This may be an annoyance to some, but it has its advantages. Student work can be backed up and made more accessible. Homework can be accessed online by parents as well as students. Thanks to this, work doesn’t get lost and parents can offer support to ensure it gets done. Soon there will be no excuse for failing to complete homework assignments.

Those who are temporarily unable to attend school, have the option of keeping up with the work online as well. This will minimize the extent to which they fall behind. Differentiation and personalized learning are also easier with technology. Students can work at their own pace and tasks can be set to meet individual learning needs.

More: 8 Leveled Reading Websites for the Classroom

Provide Constructive Feedback

You don’t have to be tech-savvy to know if something in your classroom isn’t working well. Whatever feedback you have, positive or negative, don’t keep it to yourself. Understand that these things take time, but don’t hesitate to advocate for your students and colleagues.

If there are issues with new programs and systems, offer feedback. Teachers have first-hand experience with the implementation process. We know what’s really going on in the classroom. Keep principals informed and tell the company who’s product you’re using. They may not be aware of day-to-day issues. The sooner you make them aware the better.

Take a Break From Technology

Plan some tech-free activities to break up the lessons. You can plan group activities, discussions, games, or tasks that only need pens, paper, and books. It will give students a change of pace and bring them back to basics.

This style of teaching—using both online and offline methods in the same classroom—is called blended learning, and is a great way for uncertain teachers to test technology. Learn more about blended learning in 10 Benefits of Teaching in a Blended Learning Classroom.

This is good for you and your students. By doing some tasks offline, you challenge them to complete tasks without relying on technology. It will also force them to use their brains differently.

Math lessons are great for this. Challenge students to work equations out in their heads and memorize times tables. This will provide much-needed balance, while teaching students that they don’t always need technology.

Set Clear Boundaries in the Classroom

The internet, smartphones and educational games are examples of tools used in today’s classroom. Such tools may not be used productively if clear boundaries and regulations aren’t put in place. Students may use their smartphones to waste time rather than focus on tasks; playing games when they should be researching.

This makes our jobs as teachers difficult at times and certainly makes it harder to embrace technology. As you create these regulations, empower students to take their role as digital citizens and help determine the most important rules. They’re more likely to honor rules they helped to create.

A class contract can be designed collaboratively with students as well and signed by everyone. It can be displayed and referred back to at any time.

Need some ideas for technology rules?

10 Classroom Rules for Using Technology

Get Into Social Media 

Many consider social media a distraction for kids and a hindrance to learning at times. But it can also offer learning opportunities. You don’t have to upload a Snapchat story every day or post selfies on Instagram, but you can use social media to learn about edtech. Not only will this give you insight into something most of your students use; it will allow you to make connections to the world of edtech. Open a twitter account and start following edtech experts. Subscribe to some of the best edtech blogs, many of which are written by teachers.

Updating statuses, tweeting and writing blog posts can all help to improve literacy. So using social media yourself will give you ideas on how to use it with students too.

More: 10 Must-Follow Social Media Accounts for Teachers

Collaborate With Tech-Savvy Colleagues

There is power in collaboration! Observing colleagues and asking questions can work for the good of both teachers and students. Research shows that teacher collaboration improves student achievement. When teachers talk, share resources and invest in professional relationships, student achievement rises.

Not to mention, this support from colleagues will make it easier to adjust to technology. The more support you have the more you’ll find confidence in what you’re doing. Discuss your tech concerns, share ideas, and observe how they use tools in their lessons. Remind yourself that the students will thrive when you collaborate. We all have something to share that can benefit a colleague.

Old School or New School… Or Both?

Old school teachers are awesome. Kids remember the teachers who inspired and nurtured them, not the technology which comes and goes. Edtech doesn’t replace teachers, it assists them in achieving their goals. Incorporate these eight strategies to embrace technology while still remaining true to yourself.

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8 Ways for Old School Teachers to Embrace Technology

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