I knew in 9th grade that I wanted to become an educator. Like most of us, I had a wonderful teacher who truly changed my thinking, idea, and opinion on education and I felt it was necessary to share that experience with other students to come. However, I have always loved electronics and technology. Growing up I was the go-to person when something didn’t work, start, or cooperate. In the back of my head, I considered taking the graphic design path, or some sort of branch of computer science, but it wasn’t the same back then- the opportunities weren’t as plentiful or accessible; there was too much unknown and I am a person who needs structure.
Throughout my career as a teacher I have used technology as much as possible to keep my students engaged and active; plus, who doesn’t love the collective “Woahhh” across the classroom when your Google slides does a trick or your Hyperdoc takes them to a Google Earth location? I have realized that incorporating technology into my lessons not only gets me and my students excited, but it taps into my inner child and really brings that creative aspect to life again.
It wasn’t until I switched districts that I got the opportunity to really dive deep into Google for Education, and was encouraged to explore all of these different extensions, apps, and tools that are offered to engage our students, and make life as an educator even greater. I am lucky enough to be blessed with administrators who not only support but encourage us to continually immerse ourselves into Google for Education.
I am an ENL (English as a New Language) teacher who often spent nights creating activities and manipulatives by hand to reach all my students’ needs, and countless hours searching for ways to make my content accessible to multiple languages and ensuring that all of their language objectives be met, but within the last two years and a few workshops and Google Summit later, I have finally broken through to the technology side. My daily day consists of Chromebooks, VR, Augmented Reality creation, Screencastify, Google Slides, Kahoot, Plickers, Epic! Books, and Newsela. All of this gets my students talking, listening, reading leveled texts, assessing, and expressing themselves in an engaging and comfortable manner.
My advice to all the technology fence-sitters, and individuals who think they’re past the point of learning: just try.
You will be surprised at what you’re capable of accomplishing, and what is out there that can truly make your planning easier and more efficient. Take a workshop, go to a Summit..just try.
Reach out to your building technology leader, or Instructional Technology Specialist and invite them to your class to teach a tech-infused lesson. Make an appointment with them and ask what you can do to make slight changes, but just try.
Incorporate those apps and extensions into your classroom that monitor student achievement and understanding, even if you only pick one a month and become an expert at it- just try.
My last piece of advice is to ask the students for help. A strange statement since after all, you are the teacher, but they were born and bred in a technology world and it is second nature to them. Let them help.
Lakeview Elementary (Mahopac Central School District)
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