One person who filled out the Google Form mentioned including anecdotes. I really like this idea as I do not want to make the mistake of separating theory from practice. However, I believe that both we and others can learn from our failure. Over the last several years, I have learned that is it good to appear human in front of your students and peers. It makes them feel more comfortable with you and to learn to trust you. I would like to ask help of you one more time. Can you recount in the comments a time when technology did not work properly for you, how you recovered or wish you had recovered, and what you took from that lesson. Please specify whether or not you would mind if I included it in the book. It can either be done anonymously or with full attribution to you (Book will be released for free, so I am not promising any financial compensation.).
To start, I have always been competent with technology. I rarely encounter a problem that I cannot solve. Unfortunately, I have not always been competent as a teacher. My first year teaching, I planned a fun poetry wiki project. This required the Internet because the students would create their own pages on the wiki and post their own original works.
Unfortunately, the ethernet port that you plug the computers into to get to the Internet broke off inside the wall. After spending 10 minutes handing out laptops and another 5 giving instructions, I realized the students could not get online. The students chatted pleasantly while I tried to figure out the issue. After I realized the problem, I thought I could solve it. I spent at least 20 minutes trying to fish the port out of the wall with paper clips and scotch tape. I tried to use my screwdriver to break the cover off, but a student thankfully informed that it wouldn’t be a very good idea. As this was going on, the students chatter grew louder and less pleasant. At this point, at least 40 minutes had gone by. Defeated and frustrated, I had the students put the laptops away and the next 10 minutes was a wasted teaching opportunity.
I was too inexperienced to understand how to react properly. In this instance, I did not teach my students to adapt. I wish that I once I had realized it was not an easily fixable problem, that I had the students come up with ideas for their poems, start writing drafts, and depending on how far they got, collaborate and peer edit. The technology made sharing easier, but in this instance, the lesson could still have worked well without it. If I really thought the wiki was essential, I could have just pushed it back a day or two until after the students were done writing. This was a simple mistake, but it had a lasting impression on me as it taught me to always have a plan b. Now, no matter what, I always have at least an idea, if not a full plan, of what to do it the technology does not work. Technology can greatly benefit teaching, but teaching can still happen without it. That was an important moment in my first year.
Now, if you don’t think that I am a terrible teacher (and if you’re still reading, hopefully you don’t), please share a story of your own. It doesn’t have to be included in the book if you do not want it to, but I feel that it can make teachers feel more comfortable using technology and more comfortable with the fact that they won’t always succeed if they see that the pioneers and models (Hint: if you are reading a teaching and technology blog, you are probably a pioneer and leader in your school, even if you don’t realize it.) have been in the same place that they may feel they are.