Let me just say right now, this is my very first blog post and I have been putting this off for over a year. So it is time for me to reflect on what I have learned from managing, facilitating, and being part of a Technology Rich Classroom.
Lesson 1: Never rely on your plans working perfectly. Have things go they way you want them, HOW BORING!
Starting from the from the first day my technology classroom was implemented technology (last year) to last week, technology always has a chance of failing. So what do you do, you keep moving on. So you can't get to the web site you wanted, you go to Kan - Ed or Google and quickly find another educational site for the students to look at. So you can't get a creative program to work, you pull out markers and crayons and tell the students to do the rough draft on paper. So half you class cannot log in to their computers, you turn your assignment into a partner assignment. Two heads are better than one.
Lesson 2: You are no longer smarter than the kids. Who wants to be smarter than 4th grader anyway?
This is one of the toughest lessons for seasoned teachers. This is one of the toughest lessons for arrogant adults. This is one of the toughest lessons for human beings period. Nobody wants to be outdone by those below them, not teachers, not adults, not even 4th grade students... but with technology and all that it has to offer, you no longer can know it all. I had to learn to let go of making my precise lesson plans and let my students figure out some of the details along the way. On that journey of letting go, I learned loads of new stuff too. I also fostered great leaders. My students suddenly became teachers, mentors and leaders to their classmates. It was wonderful lesson, a little frightening a times, but a huge stress off my shoulders. Chaos you say, I say creativity.
Lesson 3: You are never there... and you are never done.
In most things you reach a certain point, and you are there. Well not in technology. I faced a terrifying realization last year... I will never be there. As long as I teach with technology, focusing on engaging students, and creating an environment stimulating to the mind I will never be done either. Does this thought seem overwhelming? Yes it does... but it also seems satisfying. I am a teacher, not a cook, a mechanic or lord forbid an engineer. What I mean is I can't just cook a meal, clean up, and call it good. I can't just work on a vehicle all day, and when the clock strikes 5:00 I'm out of there. I can't leave work at the office and get paid overtime for the evenings and weekends I put in. I am never done cooking up ideas, I never call it quits, and I very rarely get paid overtime. That is the crazy, beautiful thing about teaching, especially teaching with technology.
One more note: A huge thank you to the engineers, cooks, and mechanics who do work overtime overtime to make our lives better; who do cook meals, clean up and get ready for the next one; and to the ones who put in extra hours just to make our lives better. Thank you.