A LYS Principal submits: I have decided that in the field of education we are almost all technophobic. Educators were so resistant to putting technology into classroom instruction that Dr. Neely implemented technology implementation in the classroom as one of the observed teacher proficiencies under the PDAS teacher evaluation system. Let’s face it, when the government implements a policy or law, it is because there is a perceived problem, and the acceptance and implementation of technology in education is certainly a problem.
Not convinced? Let’s consider the LYS philosophy that the alpha and omega of student expectations is adult modeling. Or, in other words, the most effective way to teach is to model. What do we model as adults for the students? Consider the cell phone. Most school districts either ban the possession of cell phones by students outright, or they allow the possession as long as the cell phones are never seen or heard. What about the faculty? Do you use your cell phone during breaks, during lunch? Is your cell phone like mine, visible on your belt? If the superintendent calls you on your cell phone, do you ignore the phone since school is in session?
Seriously, what are you modeling? Why should students not be allowed to use personal technology devices such as cell phones during breaks and lunch? Are you afraid that students may film a fight and put it on YouTube? If your decision making process is driven by fear, you aren’t leading. The act of using cell phones to record illegal activity can be addressed in policy without banning all cell phones.
Still not convinced? Let’s talk about Blogs and Twitter. Many districts universally block all Blogs, including the fine LYS Blog. Can Blogs be misused? You bet, but so can Microsoft Word. But this blocking practice also blocks numerous excellent Blogs that should be available to all students. Concerning Twitter, Twitter wasn’t more than 20 minutes old before school districts began amending policies to prevent Twitter. But in the real world, TEA and numerous school boards are now using Twitter as a way to communicate with the public. Yet many districts, again by blanket policy, block access to Twitter and similar sites.
So there you have it, prime examples of our reaction to new technology – form a policy to prohibit the new technology, immediately. We need to re-evaluate our stance on technology. We need to model what we truly practice as professionals. Dare I say that in a short number of years personal electronic devices may find a welcomed place in education, even in classrooms for instructional purposes. SC Response I have to say that you are on track. Too many of us in our field take a prison type view on technology access. Don’t let anyone have it, because they might misuse it. We might as well quit teaching kids to read and write. We need to recognize that the need to block the access and use of technology is rooted in fear, lazy practice, or both. Fear that I, the adult, might not be the source of all knowledge in my school or classroom. Lazy in the sense that to ensure that students are not harmed by or misuse the tool requires increased vigilance and ongoing conversation and coaching. Which for too many of us in our field is a dramatic change in typical practice. As we continue to address the reality of an increasingly flat, universally connected world, I will channel the tone of Dr. Todd Whitaker advice to school leaders. “We need to create policy to support our best and brightest, not to manage the lowest common denominator.” Think. Work. Achieve.Your turn…