Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Shift in Thinking

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 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.


Christine Southard said...

Using technology has become such a vital part of our school day in South Paris. I can't imagine how we'd survive without it. We use so much technology so often that the process is just as natural as using any other teaching tool, including our voices or a gesture.

I love that I work with a co-teacher who is not afraid to right click. I love all of the projects, applications and tools that we use with our students. I'm grateful to all of our friends on the web who share great resources with us. And I love that we have an administration that supports us as a tech team.

I wish I had a visual to show a time line of our evolution as "just teachers" to edtechies. We've made quite a lot of progress in a short amount of time. As you can tell by the teach twits and edu-blogs, we're part of a great group of pioneers in a teachnology revolution. I'm proud of how we've contributed to the change and how we've made technology an integral part of the learning process for our students. I hope we can be role models for others.

BTW - I love the fact that it took you so long to notice and appreciate our technology progress. I hope it gives other teachers the opportunity to reflect on their own teachnology practices. They might notice how much they're really doing and WOW themselves. :)

Allanah K said...

It is great to be part of a community- albeit a globally stretched one.

The support we get from this network is incredible and every single person I connect with is so open and willing to share their experiences and learning, especially as sometimes others in your own school aren't as far along the connected continuum as they might be.

Thanks for the links and support.


Paul Hamilton said...

It sounds as though the shift has been both gradual and relatively swift for you. Thanks for sharing examples of the ways you have embedded technology so naturally into the rhythm of your classroom. As an itinerant without a class of my own, I'm grateful (on your Thanksgiving Day) that I can share what you are doing in your classroom with teachers that I support here on Vancouver Island. I think we all need this kind of practical inspiration. --Paul

diane said...


I'm not as far along as you are - many of the "brilliant" LPs I come up with run smack dab into our district firewall.

My students, as a whole, are not cutting edge, but they respond well once I convince them to try something new.

Interesting times we live in. "I feel the earth move under my feet..."


Lisa Parisi said...

Christine - I am forever grateful to be shifting with you. You make it ever so much easier.

Allanah - As my network grows, so does my learning. Glad you're a part of it. I have learned a great deal from you already!

Paul - This shift does seem very quick. Often overwhelmingly so. It's nice to have others to help me on my journey.

Diane - Let's help keep each other up as "the earth moves". I think that will be my new theme song.

diane said...


Added you to my Google Reader - always happy to add a new cyber colleague!

(Here's an early holiday gift:


Darren Draper said...

Hello again Lisa,

This is a great post - I appreciate how reflective you've been, too. I also think you're doing great things - and the truth is that we're all shifting together.

Keep up the great work.

lori a said...

Lisa - I see how you've grown, how you've take risks, tried new ways to enhance your students learning. I wish I could bottle up whatever it is that sparked your shift in how your school day works and sprinkle it on teachers I work with so that they find just a spark of the passion you have. Your students must love coming to school.

dean shareski said...

Sounds like you're doing some great things. If you're interested in doing any collaborative global work, drop me a line. I have a number of teachers interested in working with others.

Kim Cofino said...


Wow! I am honored to be listed alongside such amazing educators - thank you! I can't think of better compliment :)

I am so impressed with what you are doing. You are my dream teacher - open to new ideas, willing to take risks and not afraid to share your thoughts.

I know exactly how you feel with this constant flow of information. In recent weeks I've been offline more than usual, and far less obsessed with reading the Twitter posts I missed while I was sleeping and everyone on the other side of the planet was twittering away. There's only so much my brain can hold at one time.

After reading your post, I realize I really need to sit down and reflect on how things have gone this year. I get caught up in doing new things and seem to run out of time for reflection. Thanks for reminding me!