Published today, on Education Week: “Why Ed Tech is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach“.
The article explains that while technology is in the classroom and schools, many teachers have not embraced the full vision set forth by edtech enthusiasts. What’s the holdup?
- Teacher beliefs/philosophies regard effective instruction
- Inadequate professional development on new technologies and technology integration in the classroom.
- School polices that don’t encourage effective experimenting by teachers in order to fully explain, troubleshoot, and use technology to its full potential for their particular subject
- Teachers use technology for teacher-driven instruction rather than student-driven instruction (i.e. use if for themselves or an end-unit project rather than have students discover and learn content for the first time using technology).
- Standardized testing reinforces a more teacher-driven instruction style.
So in other words, while the new, hip teachers want to integrate technology, the older, veteran teachers discourage that behavior because “that’s not how we teach here”. This idea is then reinforced through inadequate professional development and a lack of support by administration. Therefore, they revert back to teacher-driven instruction while they dream of student-driven instruction in order keep their job that is dependent on standardized test scores. In 5 years, these new teachers will no longer be okay with the suppression of expression and desire for student-driven instruction over standardized testing any longer; they will end up resigning from teaching. And, they still will have a mountain of student debt left to pay back.
It is this sad story that accelerated my leaving the classroom and tutoring privately. During my classroom observations and student teaching, I felt that edtech was encouraged, but instruction was still teacher-driven because that’s how teaching works. It’s how you prove you’re actually “teaching”. I felt I was doing a ton of work and the students were just sitting there, spacing out and doodling. A few students participated, but most were just conditioned to just sit back and let “school” happen. They put in their 6 hours hours of doing whatever the teacher wanted so their parents would get off their backs about not getting a 4.0 and that’s it. There was very little smiling, laughter, or student-driven learning. In fact, few were actually there because they wanted to.
I hope enough new teachers stick it out until student-driven instruction with technology is the norm. I also hope that veteran teachers either embrace student-driven instruction with technology or move out of the way in favor of change. Edtech is here to stay and it needs to be integrated.