This blog has been brewing in my brain for quite some time. I'm not sure why it took so long to finally make its way to paper (computer) but I think it has something to do with the fact that my shift was still underway. You see, I have come to realize that I have gone through some drastic rethinking in the past few weeks and am just ready now to start thinking about why.
I have shifted from trying to find ways to use technology in the class to embedding technology so thoroughly into my teaching that I didn't even recognize how much a part of our day it really is. Christine, my co-teacher, had to point it out to me just this week, in fact.
I have been spending a great deal of my time thinking about how hard it is to "keep up". My network, which is so new that I just started building it 8 months ago, is filled with innovative, amazing educational technology leaders. I spend my time in constant awe over what is being done "out there" and wondering how they have the time, the energy, or the knowledge to accomplish so much. I shut down often now, simply because my brain is so filled with new ideas that I just cannot hold anything else. And I live much of my time feeling like I will never be able to live up to the standards that are being set. When I go to school and my colleagues say that about me, I feel like a fraud. If only they knew what everyone else was doing.
But somewhere along the way, while I worried about keeping up with the Jones (or Kings or Wagners or Cofinos or Shareskis or Drapers or...you get the point), my students kept learning. And I kept introducing them to more and more tools that would assist them in whatever they were endeavoring to accomplish. And, while I wondered how these people who talk about embedding technology into their classrooms actually do that, I did it. Christine and I have created a classroom where technology is a seamless part of every day, every subject, almost every lesson.
The SMARTBoard is rarely off, the class uses the blogsite daily, podcasting is happening a few times a week, screencasts are being created, wikis are used, digital stories are being produced...the list keeps growing. We learned about digital stories (Thank you, David Jakes) and immediately thought of the stories we were already writing about our favorite teachers. What great digital stories they would make. No extra time needed...we were already working on that. I listened to other people's podcasts and realized that I didn't always have to set up a podcast situation...I just had to turn on a mic. I introduced Salute to Seuss to the children, gave them free rein to create what they wanted, and they used technology naturally and easily. Problem solving in math turned into a screencast...turn on the recorder in SMART tools and go. Questions in health? Let's each take one and research it. You have 20 minutes. Then teach the rest of the class. We'll podcast your answers. Technology is now so much a part of our daily school day that the laptops have found a semi-permanent home parked outside our classroom. The children gravitate toward them.
So back to my shift from trying to use technology to actually using it. I now realize that what I needed, more than anything, was time. Time to let my new learning settle in, time to play, time to move back and forth from old teaching to new.
And, as I think about how to bring other teachers into the 21st century, I realize that they don't need to be wowed (Sorry Women of the Web - no offense meant - I do so love your show). Being wowed almost turned me off completely. I can't keep up with all the wows. And my colleagues don't need to see what I am doing in my classroom. It's too overwhelming to go from almost no technology use to almost constant use. What they need, what I needed but somehow worked through on my own, is for someone to show them how to take what they are already doing and use technology to make it...what?...easier, more engaging, prettier .... yeah, maybe just prettier. And before they realize what is happening, they will be using technology all the time. Just like me.
At least that's what I think.