Overwhelmed By New Tech? You’re Not Alone.

Recently, talking to teachers both in person and online, I’ve noticed a common trend, one of feeling overwhelmed. Specifically, feeling overwhelmed trying to keep up with all of the new technolog. People outside of education may not be aware, but teachers have a lot on their plates: rewriting curriculum to the common core standards, differentiating instruction for all of their students, paperwork from the office, planning, grading, etc… in addition to, you know, actually teaching.

With the extreme workload many carry, one can see why it would not take much to become overwhelmed. The flow of information and new tools comes from every direction: Twitter, emails (Yes, I’ve been labelled an over-sharer at times.), Pinterest, colleagues, administrators, blogs, and any number of other avenues. For many people, especially those who want to integrate technology but haven’t had a lot of experience doing so yet.

All of the sharing of resources and techniques is wonderful; it’s something I try to promote at the local level as well as through social media. We thrive when we help and support each other. The problem occurs when all of the sharing develops a feeling of guilt in those who are receiving the ideas. I’ve had these discussions with teachers in buildings I’ve worked in (the tech department or the administration sharing regularly) as well as teachers online following Twitter feeds.

Guilt should not have a place here. There are a few points I usually try to make in these conversations.

  1. The fact that you are feeling guilty shows that you care and still are trying to improve your practice. This is important and to your credit.
  2. There is no need to try to keep up or try every idea that your tech person or administrator sends your way. There is a reason that technology coaches/facilitators/coordinators and library media specialists make keeping up with technology trends a major part of their job. They can help. Lean on them.
  3. Stick with what fits. When we are integrating new technology, always start with the learning objective. What do you want the students to learn and do? This should guide your decision making. A lot of resources are out there, but not all tools will fit all purposes. If you try to force something that does not fit, it will not work to its full potential.
  4. In a given time period, try to pick a tool or a technique and go more deeply with it. For example, we’ve been focusing a lot on digital storytelling at my school in the elementary grades. It started out just as another means of creative writing, but now students are also using it as a means to explain science concepts. Train students in how to use a tool and then explore the different applications of it with them. Using a tool deeply is arguably much more beneficial to students than using many superficially.
  5.  As you master a tool, consider offering to share how you use it or even co-teach a lesson (if your school allows for this). Teachers rightfully are much more likely to accept the utility of something when they see a colleague having success using it to help his/her students learn.

Technological guilt seems to be unfortunately common. As long as we are trying to thoughtfully use technology to improve student learning and change our practice, we are moving in the right direction.

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