Monday, July 7, 2014
Tech Geek or Teaching Geek?
I recently came across a blog post that has me reflecting on my own reputation as a “tech geek.” The Tempered Radical by Bill Ferriter highlighted the top five tweets to come out of ISTE 2014. In the post, he reflected on those tweets and why they were important to him. It lead me to do a little personal reflecting of my own.
The title of “techie” or “tech geek” is not a true representation of what I stand for, but I've been called it none the less. Like Ferriter stated, I would like to be known as a “teaching geek.” I will admit, I am an active member on Twitter, an EdCamp Junkie, I followed every tweet coming out of ISTE 2014, and am always giddy when TCEA is approaching. I have even gone so far as to have a “Twargument,” (Twitter argument) with a fellow teacher leader about the value of the free professional development associated with social media. That aside, I consider myself to be a “teaching geek,” not a “tech geek." I am involved with these activities because I want to give the students and teachers I work with the best learning experiences out there. Ferriter tweeted, ” I don't look for technology that motivates kids. I look for learning opportunities that motivate kids. That's not the same thing. #ISTE2014.”
I have been considered a campus leader and a “go to” for technology integration ideas. When I bring up tech in the classroom, I believe that it must correlate with engaging instruction, not games and fluff. Teachers have to be comfortable with relinquishing some of the power. Step away from the role of "smartest person in the room," and replace it with the possibility of blowing the ceiling off how far students can dive into the content. Bringing ideas to the table that add value to a teacher’s lesson and not just “fluff,” is key.
Watching students become experts is empowering. Through the use of digital learning tools, the possibilities for exploration and creative delivery are endless. I’ve had a student with a strong connection to math present a project that displays concepts of the universe entirely through statistics, a natural born writer compose a collection of poetry that addresses the standards associated with the phases of the moon, an artist create an interactive abstract painting that combines technology and art to describe the effects of the moon on the tides, and a bilingual student create a web based resource for other students in their native language over the content we are covering. All of these student projects involved the same standards. As a teacher, I could not have differentiated my instruction to that degree without access to unlimited information and resources. A project or a lesson can be greatly enhanced by connecting students with global contacts and virtual field trips that will enrich the student’s experience.
Seeing my students connect to the content like never before is why I became passionate about naturally extending and taking risks with technology. The title of “techie” is not a true representation of what I stand for, "teaching geek" is what I would prefer to answer to from now on.