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Tech tools vs. faculty development

Posted by phourigan on May 6, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot today about the role technology currently plays in our school and the role I think it should play in school.  Whenever I mention a new resource to a teacher, the usual response is, “That sounds great; I just don’t have any time.”

I don’t think technology should be an add-on to anybody’s curriculum.  I want my response to that teacher to be, “This should be what you do – not an addition to what you do.”  We’re still stuck in an old fashioned model that separates technology from the curriculum and requires a separate coordinator to deliver tech skills.  That coordinator is me, and I’m disagreeing.

Throwing new tech tools and toys at teachers doesn’t solve the problem either.  You can install all the SMARTBoards you want and even offer workshops to show people how to use them.  But all you’ll get is SMARTBoards in the classrooms and empty workshops.  Until you challenge teachers to examine their curriculum from the ground up, asking, “Why do I teach that?  What do I really want the students to walk away with?” I just don’t think we’ll make any headway with the next generation of learning.  That’s too bad because it could be really exciting.

Instead of tech tools (the tool du jour being iPads), let’s get teachers together with other teachers in their discipline and start the conversation of what makes a good teacher:

A good teacher is flexible.

A good teacher listens.

A good teacher hands work back quickly.

A good teacher pushes students to their potential.

Yet how many teachers do you know who are rigid, hate talking to students (closed office doors, no “free” time to talk), take weeks to grade assignments, and complain about how lazy the students are these days?  A teacher who is unwilling to consider how technology might help with each of these factors can’t be long for education.  And by speaking to other teachers in his or her discipline, they will realize that good teachers are using technology well because it happens to be the best tool around.

But that’s all it is – a tool.  Just like paper, just like a calculator.  I can teach someone how to use a tool.  What I can’t do is convince them that their teaching needs to change . . . but their peers can.


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