I am obsessed with making school a place where kids want to participate and where they seek out knowledge. This summer was spent building cardboard forts, Lego castles and tree swings…pretty awesome! So, why can’t school be an extension of this? Why can’t we, as educators, make school so much fun that we can’t wait to go back and that kids are so anxious to get back to school that they can’t stand it? Because we don’t know how.
We don’t know how because we have limited resources, limited time and we work with organic structures that are always changing…people. I believe this is where educational technology can fill the gap. Now, I understand that there is a perception that rigor and standards can’t be fun…why not? I became a teacher because I believe that God gave me the gift of teaching…a vision for the art of the craft. In fact, I believe that ALL teachers should have this gift.
In the movie The Goonies, a young group of kids believes they have the key to find a hidden treasure. Along the way many of the kids attempt to give up because “if the treasure was out there someone has already found it.” About halfway through the journey Mikey, the leader, makes a speech to try and rally their spirits (see below).
Educators need a rally speech that reminds us that we have the power to change our world. I love The Goonies because it illustrates how a group of unlikely misfits have the power to do what no one else has done, find One-Eyed Willie’s treasure. The movie also shows us that not everything has been discovered! You still have the power to discover!
As an educator this can be a powerful realization. There are technologies that have not been discovered…uses for current technologies that have not been discovered…classroom technologies that you never knew existed that could change everything you do in your class. So, if I were to construct a rally speech for this school year it would look like this…
“This can be the year that changes everything. You don’t have to start over, throw everything out or reinvent the wheel. Embrace technology, try one new thing and ask your students for help. You do this one thing a few times this year and your classroom culture will change…and you will have more fun.” Now, it might not rally The Goonies, but an educator’s treasure is generally not valued in dollars.
This is my first blog post as an Instructional Technologist. My goal this year is to bridge the gap between educational technologies and the teachers of Ashland High School. Let’s face it, teachers have very little time to research and experiment with educational technologies on top of grading, planning, teaching, extracurriculars, family, etc. So, my job is to spend a couple class periods a day working with teachers.
We have heard the saying, “Educational technology is not ONE more thing on our plate, it is our plate.” Besides not actually knowing what this means, it implies that all teachers should inherently have the knowledge of all available educational technologies and should be able to use this regularly in their instruction. Both of these assumptions are unfair and unrealistic. Educators need training, need support and need a person to sit with them and guide them…just like our students.
I know there are teachers who know more about educational technology than I do. I also know there are teachers who know less than I do. My role is not about being a know-it-all, but instead I see myself as a guide. I have spent more time this summer reading and researching about educational technology and school culture than the past ten years combined. One of the conclusions I came to was that I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did…and I am ok with this. In fact, I love that I get to spend time discovering new technologies and spend time talking with teachers as they discover new technologies that they can use in their classroom.
At the end of The Goonies (spoiler alert), Mikey and his Goonies are recalling their adventure when they see a pirate ship on the horizon. In the midst of finding the treasure, they inadvertently set free the ship of One-Eyed Willie to once again sail the seas(see below).
As you embark on a new year with new adventures, remember when you attempt something you have never done before, you could be setting free a student who otherwise would never have been able to sail. So, make this a year of virtual forts and tree swings…of new possibilities and attempting new technologies. I will be there for support and encouragement! You can make this year the greatest of your career in so many ways.