I haven’t shared this with you all, but I’m a Google Certified Educator, Level 1. I love to integrate technology into my classroom.
I once was the Digital Ambassador for my campus. Which meant I was in charge of helping other teachers integrate technology. That position made me see that a lot of teachers struggle with using technology in the classroom, and honestly, it’s not their fault.
I’ve only worked for one district that offered professional development throughout the year on technology tools and integration. And the classes were optional. Which meant, all the tech nerds (people like me) went to the PD, and those lacking in tech integration never signed up.
Every educator is not comfortable using technology in their classroom, even the presumed tech-savvy younger teachers. This pandemic has forced teachers who don’t consistently use tech in their classrooms to start without warning. This has to be causing more stress and anxiety for many teachers.
Here are a few things non-techie teachers can do to relieve some of the pressure added to this challenging (at least for me) school year.
Be honest with parents and your administrators
Telling parents and administration that you struggle with technology is the first step you should take. Just remember being honest doesn’t give you an excuse not to learn. It just means you’re asking for grace and time to learn.
Through these conversations, I’m sure you’ll find that you’re not alone. Many parents don’t have a clue about what apps or programs are used in some classrooms. I’m sure them knowing that you’re not a tech guru will provide them with some comfort to see you’re still doing some things the “old” way.
Your administrators will appreciate this, too, even though they probably already know that technology isn’t your strong suit.
Focus on one thing at a time
Rational parents and administrators aren’t expecting things to be perfect. So, take the time to learn. Pick something to focus on each week and learn how to use it. If your district uses Google products, focus on making assignments on Forms one week and Slides the next. Play around with one program or app until you’re comfortable. You’ll never master or be great at a bunch of different apps if you don’t focus on one or two at time. And guess what, you don’t have to know how to use several apps or programs. One or two is just fine.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with multiple programs just because your teammate knows how to use them. Like that toddler in the viral video said: “worry about yourself.” That’s the only way you’ll get better. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy. Focus on the best resources that will give you the most bang for your buck and master those first!
Be willing to make mistakes and welcome support
Even when you’re a pro at integrating technology, things still don’t always turn out the way you envisioned them. You’re bound to make mistakes, and that’s the only way you’ll learn. I’m not a perfectionist, so this is the best part. Once I make a mistake, I know how to make it better next time.
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to your more experienced teammates and instructional coaches. Don’t expect them to do it for you, but ask them how you can make something you’re already doing run smoother. Ask them what features in the program they love to use. Let them give you ideas on how to make whatever technology you prefer to use your own.
We have found ourselves in a stressful situation, and we don’t know how long it will last. If you’re uncomfortable with this drastic change, be honest, start small, and give yourself grace. Right now, remote learning is a new challenge for all K-12 educators. Take your time and do what you can.