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When we see the value in things, we are willing to put the time in…

If we don’t see the value, we won’t.

For the last 4 years of my teaching career I have been a part of the Connected Educator program with Regina Catholic School Divisions, meaning I have a class set of laptops. Because of this, I have been trying to always push myself a little more when it comes to using technology. This isn’t always easy, but I do think it is important. I think of how much I have grown as a teacher and how I use my devices in my own classroom. In my experience, I have found there to be

THREE Major Challenges for Blended Educators

  1. Growth opportunities for teachers
  2. Rapid advancement in technology
  3. Fighting the current system

Growth Opportunities

As I’m sure most teachers have already heard, simply using devices is not enough, and students and teachers alike must learn how “meaningful” (that ironic word that usually means nothing) technology use can lead to deeper levels of understanding, and in turn, a more successful educational experience. But the thing is, this is hard. Teachers spend four years, along with multiple internships, to learn how to effectively do their job. Yet, the current expectation seems to be that teachers just implement digital media in their class with little to no training. It truly can be a daunting task. This leads to a lot of teachers not even wanting to try it out. This pandemic can be a tremendous learning experience. Just look at how many people were able to become very proficient with technology. This, of course is a combination of things. First of all, the time and effort was put in my divisions to help teachers prepare, because divisions saw the value in it. But also, teachers saw that value in it, as well. And because everyone was willing to value it, so it became valued. Both divisions and teachers need to be willing to put the time and effort into this, or else what is the point?

Rapid Advancement in Technology

Now the next issue. It seems like every year there is something new to learn, and that makes it difficult as well. It seems like I just put in so much time to learn one thing, only for a new thing to replace it. From colleagues, I hear this complaint quite often, and I think I have only recently come to a solution. For me, this was something that I sort of just came to terms with. There will always be something new, and I will not be able to be the expert of it all. But why can’t I keep doing me? And others can keep doing them. In this way, I think I was able to make a huge step forward. This not only benefitted me, and my class, but also my colleagues. By everyone being able to be the master of their own domain (not in the Seinfeld way…), it also created a community where sharing what we know became a byproduct. I have led sessions on what I do, and I have listened to others share what they do. Even though I said that this is one of the common challenges of blended learning, with the right conditions, this is ACTUALLY a strength. Collaborate with your colleagues, collaborate with your students, collaborate with your division, and you will have an effective way to overcome the issue of rapidly developing technological advancements.

Fighting the current system

Here is the big one. Why are we teaching? Ask that question to a hundred different teachers and you’re going to get a lot of different answers. If I’m being honest, as a high school teacher, the answer that is suggested (maybe not specifically said out loud) is to get kids their high school diplomas). As long as grad rates are up, we’re good.

Because of this, a lot of people see spending a lot of time trying to teach yourself and your students how to be proficient with technology a colossal waste of time. This is where I want to reference the title of this blog. When we see the value in things, we are willing to put the time in. In other words, there may need to be a shift in the way that teachers are shown the benefits of such implementations; without this shift, it will remain difficult to develop a rationale for putting in the extra work to do so. Consequently, teachers will continue to use a supplementary approach to implementing digital media as opposed to embracing a shift toward a learner-centered classroom. And that is kind of the goal with a blended learning approach.

What do you think?

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6 thoughts on “When we see the value in things, we are willing to put the time in…

  1. Great points, Rob! Your section on “Rapid Advancement in Technology” rings so true with me. When I feel as though I have just found a great to authentically include technology into my lessons, something new pops up that would work even better. You’re also right about collaboration with other teachers. In our school, we have teachers who use Google Classroom wonderfully, while others are diving into IXL (for math practice) or Bandcamp (for recording podcasts). It is amazing what can happen if we accept that a blended learning approach can be an effective way to keep up with the ever-changing needs of our learners.

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  2. Hey Rob,

    I really enjoyed reading your post, especially the connection to Seinfeld. You bring up some very compelling ideas that wrap perfectly into the title of your post. I really like that concept of how we spend energy, time, resources on things that we see as worth it or in some financial sense a profitable investment. However, the tricky part is to get teacher to all see the worth in technology, when for some it feels so daunting and hard.

    In my first year teaching in the UK, we had a buddy system where an experienced teacher would meet once a week/biweek with me to go over things. This was extremely helpful for me to learn the basics of the profession, and yet beneficial for my colleague as I was able to share my experience with tech and newer things that I had discovered in university. I would really love to see this structure more rooted in schools. I know that many teacher already do this organically, but is nice to see if its valued by your admin or they provide space for it.

    Thanks for sharing and I look forward to hearing more!

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  3. I’ve been going back and forth this week on this same thought, what’s the value of pushing technology in when it’s going to rapidly change? How to we effectively decide what tools to use and teach our students how to use when time is limited. Maybe the Ministry needs to implement a technology literacy course into our curriculums at an early age, and yes if we all had laptops to use – what a treat that would be.

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  4. Great post. I’m sure high school teachers have their assumptions and jokes about elementary teachers, and I always like to poke fun at my friends who teach high school (as I took the high school program for my undergrad, but decided to teach in elementary); so, it is great to hear you talking about changing and integrating technology into your teaching and pedagogy rather than the “stereotypical” old school teaching model to “just get people to graduate” that we all saw when we were in high school. Coming from the elementary perspective, we feel the same pains you do with there always being something new. A new report card system, digital portfolio platform changes, etc. etc. – it can be very daunting and exhausting to keep up with the new tricks when they’re changing so quickly. I really appreciated your post and it got me asking myself some questions!

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  5. Awesome post Rob, loved your writing style and the narrative you created as well. The title of your blog hit home with me instantly. It is easy to talk yourself out of doing the work to change your perspective or build new courses/material by convincing yourself there is no value. I always try to not do the “same old” in my classroom, rather I hope to be innovative and grow my pedagogy.

    Scott

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  6. Rob,

    I like how you pointed out the ironic nature of the term “meaningful” especially in education contexts. With you as my co-op teacher, I definitely remember you impressing the importance of implementing technology in a way that is actually beneficial as opposed to simply a substitute to paper and pencils. I think with the shift to online learning it definitely created the demand for online learning that was truly “meaningful” to students; however I think there was a fair amount of simple substation for convenience’s sake. In my experience, it is difficult to implement online learning to students of a younger demographic. It seemed to be most successful with parental support, but it wasn’t something I could count on as there were a good amount of parent’s who were wary of their child having too much screen time, or were just too busy with their own jobs to offer much support for their children.

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