Most people don’t like the inconvenience of change. It’s so time-consuming to adjust and get back in the flow of things. Plus, when you’re comfortable in your box, confident in what you do, and no obstacles seem to be in your way, why change now? It’s hard for people sometimes to imagine life outside of their box. But little do the realize they stunt their growth staying inside of their comfort zone being only confident in the skills that they mastered and not acquiring new ones. As educators, we promote to our students the need to open their minds to the new in order to continuously grow their skills and master their hidden talents. So while we teach that, why don’t we as teachers live that?
Technology is flooding the classroom whether we like it or not. It’s already required in the college curriculum for future teachers to learn to incorporate the various electronic teaching tools in the classroom. Extensive training and practicing lesson planning with computers, tablets, etc. is becoming a necessity. This inevitable change is easy for young, new teachers just entering the educational work force. But how about teachers who have been teaching for over 15-20 years, and have successfully taught hundreds of students without all the hoopla of iphones, androids, tablets, iPads, laptops, and computers. Why do those teachers have to change now? They’ve done well for themselves this far.
“It’s supposed to save time. But it takes forever to figure out how to do it!” Which is what most teachers tend to complain about. Time is so precious to teacher. Time-management is so crucial considering that every minute is accounted for towards lesson planning, classroom time, grading, meeting with students, reading up on new ideas for lessons, keeping in touch with parents, going to staff meetings, and just having a life at home. Some teachers barely have 20 minutes to eat their lunch. So trying to fit the time in to learn a new computer program seems impossible. Like any other thing that is good for us, but is too hard to accomplish, we need to incorporate it as habit within our lifestyle. Like eating healthy or exercising. We often say we’d love to do that, but we don’t have time for that because we’re thinking that we need do it cold-turkey and change completely. That’s just setting ourselves up for failure. Same with learning how to use technology in the classroom. Some teachers are thinking they need to abruptly learn a lot in order to be successful at it. Teachers need to make gradual changes so it slowly becomes a way of life in the classroom. A lot of eSembler’s clients are reluctant to use our software because they’re afraid it will take double the time to figure it out. So they’ll continually do everything by hand and deal with the paperwork.
1. Mange the fear and frustration, and time.
A lot of times when teachers are introduced to new technology, they think they have to know absolutely everything about it before they can start using it. And if they don’t know everything, then they aren’t capable of using it. This is not the case. When the kids learn Math in school, we don’t expect them to everything up to Calculus once they start. We teach them in steps. Then once they master those steps, we move them on to the next level. Same with using technology in the classroom. If you’re one to be scared to even venture to any kind of computer software, you must first learn to change your logic of the whole task and desensitize yourself to it so the fear and anxiety of it all can subside. For an online software like eSembler, just browsing through the home page 15-20 minutes a day can help you get comfortable. Choose a time in the day to do it regularly. Maybe during that down once all the kids leave and you sit, breathe, maybe eat a snack and browse through the grading software. Click on different icons to see what it says. And don’t worry, if you get lost, you can use the back button to go back to start. Just like driving to a new school. It takes a few times of going there to remember the streets and turns. But after a while, you remember what stores and restaurants are close by and getting there is second nature. Same with a new software—learning the navigation of it takes a few times to remember the different turns. For the first week or two, just choose one destination to go back and forth until you feel confident. If you need to, write down the directions of what to click so you can refer back to it. You don’t need to use the software right away. Just becoming familiar with the navigation can ease that anxiety of change and learning something new.
2. Move to the next level.
Choose something simple that you will use on a daily basis, so you can master it faster and grow more confident easier. If you’re a fresh beginner to the computer world, maybe it’s using PowerPoint presentation to show them your requirements for a paper to write. Or if searching the internet is easier for you, look for lesson ideas online on a regular basis so it becomes natural to you. Maybe touch screens are easier for you—incorporate the iPad or tablet apps using games for the kids to learn. In our business of online gradebooks and LMS (Learning Management Systems), once you figured out the basics of navigation, challenge yourself to enter attendance, or a lesson plan. Start with something you do daily that you discovered when you were mastering the navigation. Do that one task over and over again until you master it, and don’t feel the need to seek out another task unless you’re ready for it.
3. Seek the help.
Some software and technology are able to do things that would make our lives so much easier, but have steps that aren’t exactly too intuitive. We would need to understand the world of software engineer to know why there are hidden, complex tasks. In any case, once you’ve mastered most of the software, venture out into learning the even more complex capabilities of a software. Contact your technology managers to see if they have training available. Or if you’re the type who likes to learn on your own, look for videos online on how to do something. Sometimes other co-workers are more experienced and have reached a higher level of knowledge of the software. Spend some time with them and share new discoveries.
Make new challenges for yourself and continue to push yourself out of your box to keep moving to a bigger box. With any technology, the number one mission at hand is to change the way you think of it. Maintaining an open mind and not becoming paralyzed by fear is so important in order to transition into the world of technology. Don’t get stuck and stagnant. Move forward to change and become better than what you are today.