Thursday, June 12, 2014

Scared to Try Something New? Let your Students be Your Guide!

 In today's classroom, teachers may often feel overwhelmed with the expectation to keep up with new technology opportunities. It is hard to find the time to learn how to use new tools effectively in instruction. Every school has different initiatives to encourage teachers to try these new tools and take risks in their classrooms. It may be tech meetings after school, teacher play days to explore thorough experimentation, encouraging teachers to attend relevant pd, or instructional technology teams that work one on one with teachers in the classroom. Sometimes this is not enough, and not everyone is lucky enough to have access to this kind of support. But, have no fear, there is another way that may be even more effective, let your students be your guide!
 To many teachers, the idea of walking into a classroom and not fully understanding how to work every aspect of what you are assigning is terrifying! In 2011 I worked in a district that sent me to extensive PD on Project Based Learning. In order to take this concept back to the classroom and implement it, I had to incorporate a wide range of tech tools to allow my students to connect with experts and share their ideas. There were an exorbitant amount of tools we could use and I had NO idea how to use any of them. That is when an assistant principal on my campus suggested I just let the students figure it out. At first I didn't know what she meant. "But I need to teach them to use the tools," I argued. She assured me they would figure it out and they would even teach me.
I decided to take her advice and let go of the the need for control.  I included students in the planning process and tasked them to find out the best tools for the project we were working on. They jumped on the chance to have a say and came back within days well versed in several different tools that could be used to support the project. Those students became the experts and were available to teach not only me but their peers. The project went smoother than I could have imagined and all of my students  had more choices because they had the help of their peers.
From that experience I began enlisting students regularly to figuring out the new up and coming tech tools. We worked together to develop an understanding of what was actually creating a better experience and not just fluffing up an assignment. 
So next time you have the urge to try something new, look no further than the students in your classroom. They have grown up with technology providing instant information at the push of a button. Including them in your planning and empowering them to contribute and teach their peers will create a buy in to the project and the content. 


  1. Great way to facilitate learning in the classroom, as well as model for students we can all learn from each other!

  2. Empowering others is a powerful thing especially students in a classroom!

  3. Nicely stated. Time to spread that message...great drum to beat!

  4. letting go of control....hard stuff! Good for you for taking the leap of faith in your kids!