Stepping outside the comfort zone

For many of us educators, the current EdTech boom is encroaching on the uncomfortable. We certainly didn’t sign up for any these gadgets when we began our teacher training. The reality is, however, in order to be a relevant teacher to our students, we need to put ourselves out to gain or renew our tech skills.

Patrick Green, recently conducted a talk at the Learning2.013 conference and discussed the importance of being a ‘relevant’ teacher to our students. In order for teachers to ultimately feel ‘comfortable’ with the technology they are teaching with, we must first force ourselves to feel ‘uncomfortable’. Personally, I feel uncomfortable every day that I turn up to work. As Head of ICT, my role not only involves moving a tech curriculum forward but ensuring all staff are skilled up in order to implement it. As one of those teachers who did not grow up with technology, I have had to step outside my comfort zone to ensure I am relevant to all those whom I work with. It is worth taking some time to watch the clip of Patrick Green delivering a very powerful message.

Over the past few weeks I have been privileged enough to lead staff through a number of workshops. The purpose of these workshops has not been to ‘enforce’ a program or application on people, but more to open their eyes to the potential and hopefully foster some creative thoughts. As Patrick mentioned in his speech, “the relevant teacher has a portfolio themselves and it is not a binder on the shelf”!

The 3 applications I chose to take staff through were:

Staff set up accounts, interacted with the program and immediately began to think how powerful it could be for their own portfolio as well as opportunities for their students. Teaching assistants were excited about the prospect of managing their daily interactions with students using Evernote, teachers could see how progress and observations could easily be tracked. Initially Twitter had a reputation as being a ‘place where celebrities post’ and they weren’t keen on being part of that. When we viewed the potential of it as a professional learning network they began to gel with it. As for blogging, many discussions cam about such as potential use.

If anything these workshops have at least begun to excite staff about the potential but most importantly allay any fears that this was not relevant to them. They see the value that by engaging in technology and ‘stepping outside the comfort zone’ they are empowering themselves and their students in the process.

As my journey continues, hopefully that of the teachers and students around me does to.

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