Five years ago I started teaching. Roughly seven years ago, when I was at university, I started this blog. It was part of an assignment where we had to explore and implement something to do with technology. The biggest ‘issue’ I suppose I had with IT at that time was ‘where do I even start?!?!?!‘. There is so much out there, and it as changing so fast, I was overwhelmed with where to start and how to keep up.
I’ve only recently actually started to feel like I’m ‘in control’ of ‘integrating technology’ effectively in my teaching. What I mean by that is previously I think I was of the ‘opinion’ that “technology is great and I should be using it as much as possible”….. and now I suppose my opinion has ‘developed’ a bit more to be “technology has amazing potential but its about combining the right teaching, the right pedagogy and the right technology for the task”. That sounds really obvious now that I think about it. When I started teaching I think I just needed to focus on teaching, pedagogy…. and behaviour management. And now i can start to add in technology.
I do question how universities are preparing new teachers for the ‘evolved’ classroom and future of teaching. I wasn’t really ‘taught’ much in terms of IT skills whilst at uni, I was however bombarded with a million ideas on how I could potentially use technology in my classroom (50% of these ideas are now outdated). Far out those lessons were intense and slightly soul destroying as you sat there trying to comprehend how you’d squeeze all this fantastic stuff into your teaching program. So, my recommendation to new teachers:
- Get familiar with IT / play with IT:
- Start following a few blogs or signing up to a few resource sharing websites. Start getting an idea for whats going on out there! I’m a big believer in sharing resources and using goodness thats out there. Don’t let it consume you, focus on the content you’re teaching. Heres just a handful of blogs and websites I follow.
- Use Pinterest or Flipboard to collate resources! I personally use pinterest and love it because its so visual (pretty pictures make me smile). These are great sites for you to pin or flip the awesome array of teaching goodness you find out there on the world wide web. Breathe. It can be overwhelming. Just focus on what you’re teaching and pulling things relevant to that content! You don’t need to collect and hoard everything you think might one day be useful! I make an effort to regularly cull my pinterest. If I haven’t used it this year, or its not related to my program next year = cut!
- Get onto Twitter! Follow and/or get involved in conversations on twitter. Twitter is a place for everything and anything, but I use it purely to connect with a world that tweets about things related to me living a healthy lifestyle and teaching others about living a healthy lifestyle (mind, body and spirit). Not sure about the twitter world – give this 14 day Twitter challenge a go (thanks to the PEGEEK for this awesome initiative)!
- Get onto YouTube! YouTube is a place for everything and anything but I use it to subscribe to a world that posts videos about things related to me living a healthy lifestyle and teaching others about living a healthy lifestyle (mind, body and spirit). Biggest tip – don’t ever show a YouTube video to students without first watching in its entirety! Using videos for the sake of videos is not effective use of technology – and – don’t show a video without first introducing it and giving students a few things to focus on whilst watching it…. waste – of – time! A couple of YouTube channels I recommend for HPE and OE teachers:
- Get some apps on your phone and use them in your own day-to-day world. After all, isn’t that what we are trying to prepare students for? Thriving in todays world? As HPE teachers we have a fantastic opportunity to really ‘lead by example’ when it comes to healthy living. Call me harsh, but if you aren’t I think you’re doing your profession a huge disservice. Talk the talk, walk the walk. Also, I believe, if you ‘play’ with apps in your own time you’re more likely to be confident using apps in the classroom. I typically have 4 ‘on the go’ at one time – what I use and how changes depending on whats going on in my world. Heres a few I’m using at the moment
- Develop a positive attitude towards IT: I wrote about my experience with this in previous post here. In a nutshell I highly recommend the following:
- Understand models like SAMR that can help you integrate IT into your teaching. This model can really help put things into perspective in terms of how you can approach integrating technology. For me, it really reduced that overwhelming feeling and put me back in control of using technology to compliment and transform my teaching. Nicely explained in this video.
- Reflect with your department. Ask for a 10minute time slot at every Learning Area meeting to ‘discuss IT’. use this time to share an app that links to current programs, or, discuss/problem solve issues people are having.
- Reflect on your own teaching and/or learning. A few ways to do this; Keep a diary; Find a mentor you can regularly touch base to bounce ideas and issues off; Keep in touch with your uni graduates! Get together to share successes, stressors and failures!
- Ask for help or ideas on Message boards / forums like The PE circle, or, converse with like minded people on twitter! If you follow the right people on Twitter they are great at ‘getting back to you’ with ideas, advice and even resources!
- Help develop a TEAM approach to integrating IT in your department. New teachers have an AWESOME opportunity to ‘lead the way’ with technology! This can potentially be your selling point when applying for jobs – seriously! However, be mindful to give yourself time to develop confidence in your own teaching and pedagogy too. Dare I say many of your colleagues will look to you to be the IT expert of the group. In their eyes you’ve just graduated, and your Gen Y/Z so you should have a much better understanding of all this IT stuff…. right?!?! To ensure you don’t burn out, or aren’t taken advantage of – push for a team approach to learning, programming and trailing technology together. Know that some teachers out there are freaking out, avoiding, offloading or refusing. I’d say because they are totally ‘overwhelmed’ with it all. Becoming ‘comfortable and confident’ with IT doesn’t happen over night. It took me 5 years! And thats 5 years of being pretty proactive about it all. You will need the support of your Head of Department to achieve this. In fact you’ll need the support of your entire department to truly make this work. Heads up, this could take time!