Less than a year ago this was my phone
My middle school students laughed when they saw it. My family told me that I
'should get with the times'. I had this phone for a lot of years and it served
my purposes well. I used it for emergencies and for texting the whereabouts and
pick up times for my kids. It only ever rang a handful of times, usually in the
middle of a staff meeting or other inappropriate time, and when it rang it
either scared the wits out of me or I didn't hear it because it was in the
bottom of my purse in another room.
Last fall, the phone rang while I was in my Visual Arts AQ (inappropriate
timing) and it was my amazing husband ready to do the grocery shopping if I'd
text him the list. Well ketchup NEVER comes up on T9 word!
This was when I saw the value of a QWERTY keyboard, a data plan and a new
phone. It wasn't the cost, or the fear of learning the ins and outs of a new
phone (if you ever see me roller blading you'll know I'm not afraid to try new things or to look
unskilled), and it wasn't that I didn't want to 'get with the times' -
I just didn't see value in it until then. I'm not the kind of person who has to
have the latest thing just because it is the latest thing - I have to see the
value in it (my 23 year old daughter still brings up the fact that she was the
'only' kid in grade 2 without a Tamagachi).
Technology was already integrated into my personal life and my teaching life
- when it was valuable. My grade 7 class wrote better and thought
more critically when they used kidblog for assignments, they learned to persist
despite frustration when they made instructional videos for YouTube,
and they were willing to carefully edit and revise their writing and
perfect their illustrations for their dual-language digital picture books. They
were engaged in their learning because they saw value in these assignments -
not just because they were 'using' technology.
I see the value of my new phone, especially because it is easier for me to
connect, to communicate, to collaborate, and to quench my
curiosity whenever it is convenient for me. Another great tool that
helps me do all these things is Twitter. Connecting with an amazing group of
educators who teach me what it is that I don't know, urge me to question and to
think in new ways, and show me the value of so many
A question that often comes up on Twitter is 'how can we get more
educators to connect, to collaborate, to integrate technology effectively, and get into the 21st century?' My answer is - show them the value in
Giving someone an iphone or ipad and telling them they should get on
Twitter isn't going to do it - unless they do it to impress you because you are
the boss. But we don't want them just to 'do it' we want them to like it, to
get excited about it, to learn and share about it.
I can blog, Tweet, or send emails to share my excitement about how my phone,
Twitter, or ipad has value - but I think it is important to remember that people
who aren't already virtually 'connected' value in-person connections.
Sharing and showing in-person will help us meet them where they are
at that moment.
Recently, a teacher who has taught me so much about teaching was showing me pictures of her beautiful garden on her new
phone. She mentioned that while she loved the pictures she was upset that she
had no way to show them to her sister who lives in another province. The smile
on her face, the gleam in her eye and her "that is so cool, I didn't know
I could do that!" when she learned how to email a photo on her phone was
wonderful. This in-person connection diminished her fears and opened her
up to possibilities.
If we want more educators to get connected and to integrate technology we
have to meet them where they are and show them the value in change. Educators
have to know how to use technology before they'll ever be able to integrate it
into their lessons. And just like middle school students, educators have to see the value in something before they
will open up to learning and trying new things.
Invite people into your classroom and visit theirs. Share your latest
valuable find in the staffroom. Be open to learning about the needs and fears of others and help them. Eventually these in-person connections might
lead them to open up and see the value in virtual connections, in collaborating
and creating a PLN, and in becoming aware that we don't know what we don't know
and that is a wonderful thing because it means we get to learn something new.