Thursday, March 6, 2014

How to Support Teachers Who Are Uncomfortable With Technology

Though tablets, iPads, smart phones, and laptops are everywhere, not all teachers feel comfortable with their use in the classroom.  Some may believe that it is the older generation who is most resistant, but that is not always the case. So what raises anxiety for these educators?

For some teachers, it is the fear of not being the "expert" in the room.  They are concerned that the students will be more skillful with the tech than they are.  Instead of allowing students to assist from time to time when those tech glitches arise, teachers elect to bypass the use of tech and resort to the familiar.

Another fear is that they may be reluctant to step out of their comfort zone.  After all, they taught a certain way for years and everything was fine so why change course?  Well, the students in today's classrooms are the adults of tomorrow.  They will need to be able to successfully incorporate all forms of technology (including tech tools not yet invented) in their future professions (some of which have not been created yet).  If they don't start familiarizing themselves with it early, they will be at a definite disadvantage for college and beyond.  For inner-city children,  it will be very unlikely that they have access to the internet at home due to limited parental income so if they are not exposed to it at school, they won't have any access at all.

Suggestions to restore confidence in tackling the unknown?  There are many. 

1.  Take for example the simple action of asking students for assistance (I do it regularly and let them know that I appreciate their helping me).  Students jump at the chance to teach something to teachers that they like.  There will be no risk of embarrassment here.  

2.  Turn to colleagues for help.  Teachers who feel comfortable with tech enjoy assisting those who don't.  There is never any shame in sending out an "SOS":) 

3.   Look for free digital resources.  There are many out there (ELL TEACHER PROS--we have MANY and all are free).  Find ones that meet your needs without overwhelming you. 

4.  Set aside a small block of time at home to explore your device.  Play, yes I said PLAY, with it.  That is probably one of the best ways to overcome any fear with the unknown.


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