So Much Teacher Technology, So Little Time.

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So Much Teacher Technology, So Little Time.

August 28, 2013  |  Teaching

If you are in NYC, school is about to start. If you are in other parts of the world, you are probably 6 periods deep into your 2nd, 7th 0r 12th day of school (Salute, you intrepid pioneers)! I wanted to put together a series of posts to ease you into your first month or so of school. This first topic – Teacher Tech – was inspired, in part, by my colleague, LeAnne from San Francisco.

So this is what I did to prep for 'Back to School'...

So this is what I did to prep for ‘Back to School’… I hung out with Smartt people.

There are far too many amazing apps, programs, and websites out there to keep up with (Peep my twitter @MisterMinor to stay in the know). All that is compounded with the hundreds of ways to actually use each one! As a result, staying sharp on the latest teaching innovations can begin to feel like a second job.

The arduous nature of that task does not diminish the reality that teachers MUST embrace new technologies. Failure to do so in our classrooms can have a murderously negative impact on your students ability to earn over a lifetime of work. If we believe, as Jefferson did, that public education’s role is to unshackle our nation from poverty, then dismissing technology as an unnecessary frill is treasonous to the profession.

So then, how do we keep up with technology AND the 4,080 other things on our teacher to-do lists? The answer lies in another time-honored American institution:

Child labor. (Wry smile.)

Seriously. Let kids help you. Some of the best professional development that I have had in my life has been facilitated by 13-year-olds. Here is how you should work your tech hustle this year:

Form a SWAT Team (Students Who Assist with Technology). This is who needs to be on it —

  • The Enthusiast: this is the kid that is already in love will all things gadgety. Look up from your teaching right now (s)he is probably playing a video game or posting to twitter right now. If properly empowered & outfitted, this kid will save your career.
  • The Boss (Bo$$ or Bawse, if you teach 7th grade — It’s a Miami thing.): This is the kid that is in everyone’s business. This kid knows the who, what, when, and where of your classroom better than you do.
  • The Early Riser: All of us have that kid that shows up for class at 7:40 even though class does not start until 8:10. This kid has the extra time to do your bidding.
  • The Expert: This kid knows everything about something… Cars, Pro Wrestling, Parachutes — whatever. This kid, somewhat organically, has the serious research muscle that you will need.

These kids can do everything for you. Invest 14 minutes a week in your professional learning by working with them…

  1. Once a week for seven minutes, take two of them. Hand over all you gadgets and ask them to show you something impressive. Then have them coach you as you do it. This is how I learned to code. Seriously.
  2. Once a week for the remaining seven minutes, tell the other two an app or program you want to learn, have them go away, tinker, and teach you all about it next week.
  3. You can also have the Early Riser collect digital texts for you (from online or from databases) — (s)he can save them to Google Drive or to Dropbox. The rest of your team can comb through them for formatting, save them into organized folders, and email them out to other students.

Hope this gets you off to a decent start!

— Corn

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