It All Starts with the Teachers

Essential Question Week 2: How can we utilize new learning theories in our curricular areas to engage and motivate our increasingly digital students?

Two articles and a video this week have helped to solidify by thinking that everything starts with the teachers. Of course we know this in the back of our head. Sarah Woods states, that technology is sometimes thrown into classrooms with the thought that the students will drive the change and help with the understanding. This is not effective and has been proven time and time again. Giving students technology does not make them more engaged or knowledgeable. Using technology alongside good teaching engages students.

I have seen awesome technology given to students who were given no instruction, guidance or goal. The result of this was that the lesson was a complete flop. The teacher and the students were frustrated. Sometimes this was a learning lesson for the teacher on preparation for lessons and sometimes this gave the teacher the ammunition that they were looking for to say “technology is a gimmick” that I don’t want it in my classroom. The second group of teachers are the teacher missing a growth mindset around technology

Teachers without a growth mindset are opposed to change. Using technology effectively comes with being able to change. Technology in it’s nature is rapidly changing and therefore you have to be a flexible user. Teachers who struggle with technology in my experience, do so because they struggle with change.

I wrote about teacher’s stress over change in my blog post after attending a workshop by John Mikton at Learning2 in Warsaw. He stated that for many teachers, technology changes are not necessarily something that they are opposed to because they are opposed to tech changes, but they are opposed to change in general and tech changes are ones that they feel that they can safely have control over.

Sarah Woods states “Our teachers were educated at a time when there weren’t laptops in classrooms, when there weren’t even laptops. That’s a huge change in one career. A lot of people went to school thinking that they were going to have to know every single fact and remember them all. We need to help each other get to the point where we can recognize the new identity for teachers. Our teachers aren’t going to go back to the way school was.” and Peter Heslin’s quote in the article Never Too Late: Creating a Climate for Adults to Learn New Skills “Teachers may avoid new teaching strategies ‘for fear they might jeopardize their identity as an already highly skilled instructor.’ ” This identity crisis is a cause of stress for a lot of teachers. They no longer have a clear understanding of what is expected of them as educators.

This identity dilemma is something that I see daily. Teachers being afraid to use a technique or tool in their classroom that they do not feel that they have become an expert in. They hold off on teaching with technology because they want to wait until they are an expert. This gives students an unrealistic expectation of what being an adult is like. If students are surrounded by experts and never see what it takes to become one are we really teaching them how to live life?

2 thoughts on “It All Starts with the Teachers

  1. Really enjoyed reading this . I’m one of those who was educated in a non-computer era but I think I embrace technology and I love working with it .


  2. Hey Cary, now that I saw your picture I remembered you! I was also at the conference and Warsaw and, coincidently, John Mikton was one of the guys there really impressed me when he spoke.
    Your post is very pertinent and deals with a problem that surrounds all of us.

    Like John said, there are teachers that are resistant to change in general, not just in the tech area.

    There are also teachers that are afraid to lose their status and “fail” to be the experts in the classroom. This is a real problem because what we see is a change of focus in learning. Learning should be student centered and not teacher centered.

    Information is, nowadays, accessible to everybody and there is no shame to say to students that we don’t know everything. We can check on any information and come back with the answer next time. Or we can stimulate and guide them to find the answer themselves.

    Teachers, as any other human being, should be like a feedback: genuine and realistic. If not, it will happen exactly like you said in your last paragraph: “give students an unrealistic expectation of what being an adult is like”

    thank you for the post, really enjoyed it!


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