I was struggling to decide what my theme for this, my final post, should be, and it occurred to me that I should probably write about the thing that had the most impact on my students- and on me- during this unit. Thank, my Guided Inquiry friends, is technology.
I have strong feelings about the use of technology in the classroom. I’m a firm believer in its power as a tool for engagement, as a tool for differentiation, and most importantly, as a tool to unlock inquiry learning for infinitely more students. However, I’m also all too aware of the power of technology to turn even the most confident teacher into a red-faced, flustered mess. We’ve all been there- with our perfect lesson plans, SO pleased with ourselves for incorporating technology, and then no one’s password will work. Or all the laptops are dead. Or the wifi is being plain old vindictive. We should have seen it coming, but we didn’t, and now there are thirty eighth graders looking at us expectantly like, “Hello? You’re a teacher. Can’t you fix it?” And no. No, we can’t.
If that sounds personal, it is. I just finished four weeks of doing daily battle with the wifi (hence the title of this post). I had cords and ports and work orders and IT people galore, or so it seemed, and the wifi was still about as predictable as a moody teenager. And believe you me, I had days where I wanted to lock it all up and throw away the key, and unearth a collection of Encyclopedia Britannica. But I couldn’t do that, and there are a couple of reasons why.
The first is that teaching students to be smart and successful in a digital world becomes more important quite literally EVERY DAY that we live. As teachers, we just love to talk about teaching the whole child and for better or worse, this is now a part of that. Our ultimate goal as educators isn’t just to turn out competent readers or mathematicians, but to develop responsible, contributing, global citizens who are equipped with the tools to be lifelong learners- and technology is now a basic fact of that existence. So if I gave into my urge to shut it all down, I would be doing such a disservice to my students.
The other reason I can’t put it away and never get it out again is because of what that would teach my students about learning. When students see us, as teachers, struggle, we’re essentially teaching them how to learn. If we shut down and shy way and refuse to try when it gets hard and messy and complicated, that’s exactly what they will do. As an inquiry community, it’s especially important that we don’t do that- and I’m talking to myself too here- because inquiry learning (at least in my experience) is messy and complicated- but ultimately SO worth it. So if I want my students to take the risks involved, I have to be willing to take risks as well, so they’ll know what that looks like.
So the encyclopedias stayed- I don’t know, wherever they are (although I did have a great selection of WWII books, courtesy of the WMS library), and we persevered. We learned how to troubleshoot and change networks and to plain old turn it off and turn it back on again. And the results were more than worth it.
Thank you SO much for letting talk your ear off this week, and huge thanks to Leslie for giving me another chance to hijack her blog. I LOVE sharing and can’t wait to read the about the other great stuff you all are doing in 2017!