I recently had a teacher ask me that exact question. They were complaining about not being able to keep up in the training sessions and then they weren’t sure what to do in the classroom. The teacher went so far as to say, “5 years ago I was on top of everything, and now I constantly feel lost”.
This is not all that uncommon of a feeling, along with “how can we keep up with the kids, they know about and are using things weeks before I even know they exist?”
Both are valid questions, and important things to consider in today’s educational environment. Our students today were born the internet. Most of our students had their baby pictures taken with a phone, and posted on Facebook within minutes of birth. In a sense, we started this ball rolling – and we would be naive to think that these kids wouldn’t take that ball and run with it. I don’t see that as a “we have to keep up” secairo as much as I see it as an “I get to let them teach me to keep up” one.
However, there is plenty of oportunity for you to learn from other adults too!
1. You can develop a Professional Learning Network.
Following people and organizations on Twitter is a great way to pick up tips and tricks in 120 characters or less. Follow people who give useful tips on tech integration. When people find cool things to use in class, they typically like to Tweet about it. Don’t be scared to unfollow people who you don’t find useful too. You will stop using Twitter if you have to sort through random tweets, pictures of what Joe had for lunch, and the fact that Sally hates Mondays. I’m always following new people and unfollowing people who no longer offer useful Tweets. Here are a few of the people I follow that offer great tips and tricks:
2. In today’s “everything’s on the internet” life, “everything” includes online tutorials. One of the best ways to learn how to use the myriad of tools out there is with online tutorials geared towards education. SimpleK12 is a great one and while most of their content is subscription based, they are constantly doing weekend promotions for free. There are many others out there, just Google search them out!
3. Speaking of Google Searching… I Google things constantly all day long. If I glance over a shoulder and see something I don’t know about, I Google it. If my kids talk about something I don’t know, I Google it. If I want to do something and don’t know how, I Google it. Are you starting to see a pattern?
4. Ask a nerd! Yes, I’m a nerd and proud of it. The old stigma of being a nerd is basically gone now. Even students see the value in being knowledgeable and especially about tech stuff. The best part is that us nerds are typically super easy to find on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, blogs, and the list goes on and on.
5. Finally, have your students do the work for you. I have told many a teacher this great advice: have your students find apps/websites that work for what you want and have them show you how to use them. If your students are the ones that you are trying to keep up with, have them teach you what you want to know. Yes, I know that’s scary giving that much control to them and admitting that they may know more than you (well scary to some), but it works! Once they tell you about something, Google it! Learn for yourself about it and then run with it.
Technology is part of every job and everyday life for everyone now and it will stay that way. If we are preparing our students for success we have to recognize this and embrace it. How can you teach 21st century learners (and people in a lot of cases now) if you are stuck back in the 20th. The name of the game in life now is to be that life long learner, but have fun with it. Technology is there to make our lives easier – use it to make your life easier!!