Hats and Shoes: Gearing up for Tech Ed with ISTE

hats

I wear a lot of hats in my world of education. I’m a former JI teacher with experience mostly in grade 8, and I’ve dabbled in administration and curriculum writing. Currently, I’m a self-employed home daycare provider, education student at Redeemer University College, and a parent and board member at my daughter’s independent Christian school. While at times I’m overwhelmed, these various perspectives are a blessing to me on my journey as a lifelong learner. 

In my Digital Technology for Education course, I’m exploring the use of technology from my current perspectives. The International Society for Technology and Education (ISTE) has developed some standards and performance indicators for teachers regarding their use of technology. ISTE has also outlined several conditions that need to be met by schools so that teachers can effectively use technology.

 As a board member I share a responsibility for ensuring that many of these conditions are met. Boards are instrumental in helping to develop a shared community vision that embraces technology. Necessary to implement this vision would be consistent and adequate funding for the technology itself, the maintenance of it and the professional development around it. This funding for technology should be integral part of our education budget and can even help to reduce spending on some of the traditional consumables and non-consumables like textbooks, notebooks, and pencils. Our board needs to work with administration to develop and implement the technology plans and support policies that align themselves with the shared community vision. However, this collaborative work should not be limited to boards and principals; we need to recognize the leadership potential in teachers, parents, and even students. As boards and teachers move forward and embrace 21st Century education, the ISTE guidelines are an excellent resource for planning and implementation.

 As a student enrolled in continuing education courses, the ISTE standards and performance indicators are what I strive toward. The 5 basic standards below are manageable, but the detailed performance indicators that fall under each of the standards are overwhelming.

1.  Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

2.    Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

3.    Model Digital Age Work and Learning

4.    Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

5.    Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

At this point without my own class or students, I can dream big about how I will inspire student learning and creativity with technology. I can imagine how my students and I will engage with colleagues and students of other cultures through technology. I can envision my involvement in promoting digital learning in my workplace. But these are ideals, and as a student myself, I’m going through my own technology learning curve. As I engage in my own learning experiences using technology, I can focus on professional growth, modelling digital age work and learning, and I can begin to practice digital responsibility.  I’m becoming more familiar with designing digital age learning experiences using tools and resources. (Just look at my blog posts and various background colours. Why are my first two backgrounds white? Yup, still lots to learn.) I’m collaborating on a group presentation for using Blendspace and google docs. I’m exploring apps for special education. I’ve begun to model digital age work and learning by blogging, following other blogs, and establishing a personal learning network on twitter. I’m engaged in online learning. I’m learning to be a responsible citizen in the digital world. As I’m growing professionally, I’m on a very steep learning curve, and yup I’m overwhelmed. I don’t even have my own class yet, so I can only imagine how teachers might feel as they face this mountain of “performance indicators.”

As a board member, my added perspective as an education student makes me empathetic to the challenging climb that teachers face. I’m also acutely aware that in order for technology to be implemented, the leaders who are passionate about 21st Century education need to be working alongside the teachers. Leaders in our schools are most effective when they are modelling the initiatives that they promote. Chris Wejr, a K-6 principal in British Columbia, celebrates his role as a teaching principal and describes the benefits to his school in his blog post “Principals Are Teachers.” http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/985. Greg Miller, a superintendent of a school division in Alberta is another big proponent of school change. He encourages principals to try team teaching, and describes his own experience as a team teacher. He brings his passion for technology integration, and the teachers bring their expertise and knowledge of their curriculum. http://gregmillerprincipal.com/2013/04/07/principals-try-team-teaching/ As we strive to meet the standards set out by ISTE, leaders who model digital age learning are integral to effectively implement technology in our schools.

So as I wear all of my various hats, I also need to put myself in the students’ shoes. They don’t expect to learn it all at once, and we certainly don’t lay it all out before them in preschool and kindergarten. Learning takes forever! So thanks ISTE for the mountain of technology guidelines and conditions. We’ll get there, but it might take a lifetime. For now, I’ll simply take a deep breath, put on my lifelong learner hat, my sensible walking shoes, and be content to take one step at a time.

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