As much as I praise technology as something that has advanced my teaching, there is a point where we as teachers take it too far.
Why is there such a push for more technology in the classroom? Is it for kids or adults?
Since I'm sure you don't have 15 minutes to sit and watch a video during the day, I'll go ahead and sum this up. The world is and has been becoming increasingly mechanized making humans increasingly unnecessary. The go through several examples, but the most pressing for our purposes is education. Can computers replace the need for classroom teachers?
This video is a hook that I use regularly in my classes toward the beginning of the year that the kids enjoy. It's also useful as a hook for the industrial revolution for all the history teachers / robotics coaches out there.
With internet more widely available than ever before, books becoming increasingly digitized, and online learning technology becoming more sophisticated, what is the future of the traditional classroom teacher? Does the role have to change? Will it be eliminated entirely?
It goes without saying that the roles and responsibilities of teacher are going to change within the next few decades. I'd argue that the teacher will become no less necessary than they are today. Look at reconnect. Kids go and get rubber stamped so that schools can be compliant and keep graduation numbers high, but the understanding of the material isn't always necessary there. I don't know the laws around reconnect, but I do know that it is unusual and, in my opinion, unethical to have a kid in reconnect for 6+ class periods. That was the case for a few of my students last year. They used to escape, skip, and cheat just to minimize their time in that room.
Technology is a tool, but it can't teach motivation. There is no replacing, mechanically, everything that teachers do for their students both inside and outside the actual content. It also doesn't account for many of our students that still don't have 24 hour access to the internet or even a computer.
Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't pose a question to a few of the readers that made it this far. Those of you who are whispering "Amen" and all out rejecting the idea that computers can replace teachers, how many of you got your bachelors or masters from an online program? I know for a fact that DISD has HUGE numbers of teachers with one or both of their degrees from the internet. Does that diminish the value of that degree or your education? If not, then why can't students achieve just as much as you did online. If so, then why does your degree count as legitimate qualification for you to be in the classroom in front of kids? Does a degree matter at all?
These are the questions I think about over my mid morning coffee.
New technology means education is changing. We're going to have to change with it, but there's no replacing us.
Dallas Student Technology
Technology pushing Dallas Teachers out of schools
Interesting article this morning on the use of technology by preschoolers. The long and short of it is that kids are becoming experienced with and accustomed to using technology from ages as young as 1. There are plenty of other people who will cite this as a symptom of a greater sickness that will culminate in the decline and destruction of civilization as we know it, but for our purposed, I want to focus on what this looks like in the classroom.
Kids on their phones drives us nuts. Part of it is a feeling of inherent disrespect in the act of dividing attention between teacher and technology, but for many of them, that is life. Many of our students use their phones without noticing and as an addition to anything they are doing. Game developers and technology companies started targeting this behavior years ago by trying to create consumer content for the "second screen."
This is why education and instruction is and must change. The world is different and, quite frankly, many of our schools do not have the right administrators and procedures in place to accommodate a no tolerance cell phone/technology. That means we have to turn it into a tool for good, for education. I understand the impediments to making this a reality including but not limited to the following: poor internet, untrustworthy kids, overworking the teacher, etc. That said, I've found a few ways to make it a reality. Something as simple as recording lectures and making them accessible to the students through their phones helps bridge that technological gap and i'm seeing improvement in my students.
Embracing technology and change has made me much less frustrated as an added bonus. Give it a try!
Technology pushing out DISD Teachers
I talk a good deal about how important veteran teachers have been to me in my formation as an educator. Teachers that have been around for the long haul are essential to a successful and functional school. Period. Full stop.
What do veteran teachers need to do to continue having the impact they've had over the past 2, 3, 4 decades? Continue to get better. Don't stagnate. What does that mean? Master technology.
The concern that districts are trying to phase out older teachers is not as much of a myth as some people make it out to be. By the same token, it's not as much of a nefarious plot either. It's much more subtle than that. The shift to more technology on many campuses, intentional or not, is a soft push that changes the makeup of a campus. Can't keep up with the times? You get left behind. Refuse to comply with campus requirements? OK, bye! This is the wrong way to use technology.
It doesn't make sense to spent an absurd amount of money on technology when several of your staff members have barely mastered email. This isn't being dramatic or speaking in hyperbole. It's a reality that we have teachers that are barely able to use the internet. Despite that some DISD campuses are spending so much money on technology that is trading off with the ability to buy basic supplies for faculty.
I hate this. It hurts teachers and ultimately the students when it isn't done thoughtfully, purposefully, or compassionately. Teachers that have been making a difference for longer than I've been alive are finding themselves on the outside of education because the way people want classes to be taught is changing. I want veteran teachers, especially those who have helped me so much, to be "unleavable." What have I done about it? Trained them one on one to use the technology begin implemented by DISD. Off days, planning periods, and other times they've needed it, I've personally helped veterans learn to use their technology. What did they do in return? Helped me become a better classroom manager, group work facilitator, faster grader, and so many more things that I can't name them all here. We all have something to offer. We're all in this together. So use us as your best resource. Younger teachers are happy to help you just like you help us.
Maybe a little less ceremony and more effective PD would change this. In the mean time, we got you veterans.
End of Year Reflection - Veteran DISD Teachers
End of Year Reflection - Novice DISD Teacher
Watch a Master Dallas ISD Teacher
Churn of DISD Teachers
DISD PD Reflection Week
TFA helps develop all DISD teachers