In a recent keynote I heard a speaker extol the value in letting kids struggle in the learning process. As an educator and parent, I watched my students and children at home struggle with a variety of tasks and can see the benefit of allowing learning to happen organically through the struggle. The challenge I often faced was finding the balance between allowing them to struggle and lending a helping hand to speed up the process.
The value in the struggle must be carefully weighed in light of efficiency. Sometimes it’s just more efficient and beneficial for me to provide direct help to negate the struggle and get the process moving again. That delicate balance is one that teachers experience regularly, especially as it relates to technological tools in the classroom.
Case in point, a teacher approached me with tears in her eyes about 18 months ago. She said in confidence that her administration was encouraging, or perhaps pressuring, teachers to go paperless, and that she did not have a clear direction of what that meant. More importantly for her, she was losing precious time by having to provide feedback on student writing via Google Docs instead of her tried-and-true method of written comments on printed pages. She and I talked more and I could see her frustration as it dripped from every word, but rather than come across as anger I felt a profound sadness. She kept saying over and over again that she was spending less time with her students because it was taking her longer to give them the feedback they so desperately needed.
It’s from that very conversation that I decided to build CheckMark. This tool is designed to help teachers like her gain back those moments and help her be more efficient in her work. This idea of efficiency resonates because when we increase in efficiency in our work, we can experience a net increase in time saved which hopefully correlates to a reduction in stress. As we look at robust infrastructure, I sometimes wonder if we are often adding new tools for the sake of adding new tools, or whether we really consider the nature of efficiency. Perhaps if we begin to look at tools through a lens of efficiency we can help teachers gain back those moments with students—moments that are priceless.
Dr. Christopher Craft is an award-winning educator and speaker based in South Carolina and the Executive Director of Innovation for EdTechTeam. As a classroom teacher, he has been recognized both locally and nationally for innovative teaching with technology. Most recently he won the Belk Service Learning Challenge Grand Prize for his work with 3D-printed prosthetics for children. Dr. Craft was also asked to visit the White House and meet with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Dr. Jill Biden for a dialogue on the current state and future of education. He was named to the National School Board Association’s “20 to Watch” and one of the prestigious “20 under 40” in South Carolina. He has a B.A. in Spanish, a M.Ed in Educational Technology, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research from the University of South Carolina, and is Nationally Board Certified. Chris is a Google Certified Innovator, a Google in Education Trainer, and was recently accepted to be an Apple Distinguished Educator. Find out more about Dr. Craft at www.christophercraft.com or follow him on Twitter @crafty184.