#thattech Week 5–You’re Fired!

I have the opportunity to teach privileged children who mostly experience access.  I feel as though I’ve experienced more frustration with the system in the past several years than ever before.  But as I’m coming to learn in my research, we must embrace this generation and certainly not put up a firewall.  John Palfrey and Urs Gasser note, “Digital Natives offer feedback, often quite harsh, but in a way that can help brands to refine at the margins, or to innovate in wholly new ways” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  If we don’t think and educate with an open mind, these Digital Natives are liable to drive us out of the business and potentially eat us for dinner!  They also mention, “These Digital Natives may be innovators, but they are threatening a way of life. People are losing their jobs” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).

Although these techy youth may not solely be to blame for job loss of boomer employees, this idea seems predominant at my school.  Older teachers are being driven out of their 20-30 year careers because, simply put, from administration’s perspective, they cannot keep up with the pace at which we must deliver to today’s youth.  (Obviously this may be driven by budgetary reasons too.  It’s sad to see some of them go, many kicking and screaming.)  With students’ basic computer skills outperforming that of their teacher who has no desire to integrate technology in the classroom, I would agree intervention should be put in place.  But who wants to be forced to leave their one and only career and not given the liberty to go on their own accord after putting 20 plus years in the business?

I feel as though my classroom environment is constantly evolving to suit the needs of my students to maintain an adequate pace.  If at all possible, I bend over backwards for these talented young individuals and try to provide everything they need to be efficient learners while keeping my professional expertise at the forefront.  This includes posting grades online in an expeditious manner.   As Tapscott mentioned, “Warp speed is the preferred speed” (Tapscott, 2008).  It’s hard to believe, but I have parents who sit on their phones and computers and watch their child’s gradebook waiting for the next grade to post.  I always try to utilize many features of the internet to allow my students access to complete assignments without having them use their teacher as an excuse.  For instance, they can use an online textbook for assignments (no need to use the ‘I forgot my book at school’ excuse).  I also upload all assignments to my website in pdf format so students can access it anywhere from their mobile devices (even when absent).  I promote resourcefulness in the classroom and encourage students to problem solve when they try to use justifications for their faults.

Communication is another expectation of these privileged students.  Not only do these kids want to communicate with each other, but their parents want constant communication with their child and teacher too.  I’ve found the best rule of thumb is to contact parents frequently via email or phone, even for minor things, as most parents want and like the feedback.  I foster a collaborative work environment in my classroom where students are seated at tables (small communities) so they can constantly run ideas back and forth regarding how to solve math problems as well as assist those in need.

It is important to know the needs of our students.  I remain open to new suggestions on ways to improve my instructional delivery and classroom environment to better suit the needs of the rising Net Gens.  Although this statistic may be dated, Bobby Hobgood and Lauren Ormsby noted in their article Inclusion in the 21-st century classroom: Differentiating with technology, “A 2005 U.S. Department of Education study found that whole-class instruction was the most common format experienced by secondary students with disabilities as well as students in regular education academic classes” (Hobgood & Ormsby, 2011).  I hope by now many teachers recognize we cannot stand up in front of the class and expect students to learn from traditional lecture methods.  Hobgood and Ormsby go on to say, “Many of the obstacles to implementing differentiated instruction can be overcome with the effective use of technology” (Hobgood & Ormsby, 2011).  We need to get creative, like our students, in finding new innovated ways to deliver content.

In closing, Palfrey and Gasser comment on the fact “Digital Natives will in time revitalize the industries that they are challenging, create new jobs to replace those they are threatening, and offer new services to customers around the world” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  I hope I live long enough to see this come full circle because I’m already trying to flip to the ending of this book.

References:

Hobgood, B. & Ormsby, L. (2011). Inclusion in the 21-st century classroom: Differentiating with technology. Retrieved from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/every-learner/6776 on June 12, 2014.

Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2010). Born Digital : Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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6 thoughts on “#thattech Week 5–You’re Fired!

  1. Nicole,

    Sounds like you are a great teacher! I love how you have small cooperative groups set up in your classroom. Also, the fact that you are willing to be flexible makes experimenting with new technology slightly less frustrating. You said, “I feel as though my classroom environment is constantly evolving to suit the needs of my students to maintain an adequate pace. If at all possible, I bend over backwards for these talented young individuals and try to provide everything they need to be efficient learners while keeping my professional expertise at the forefront.” Technology is changing so rapidly that it is important as educators we constantly work to keep up with the pace our students require.

    I read an interesting article with a section on technology called “Education Trends Shaping School Planning”. On page 9 Stevenson discusses the consequences of the rapid technological changes.

    “For educators and facilities professionals the challenge of technology over the next forty years is, to say the least, daunting. Technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that it is nearly impossible to plan school structures that remain “cutting-edge’ for very long after opening. however, schools planned with the greatest flexibility in terms of adding (and removing) technology will best support continuously emerging technology-based instructional methodologies and operational management approaches,” (2010).

    I think remaining flexible and being willing to collaborate with our students will help us deal with the challenge of implementing the latest technology in our classrooms.

    Resources:

    Stevenson, Kenneth R. (2010). Education Trends Shaping School Planning. Retrieved online from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED539457.pdf

    • “I think remaining flexible and being willing to collaborate with our students will help us deal with the challenge of implementing the latest technology in our classrooms.”

      I think you are so right on in this statement. As educators we have to be flexible and open to using technology. It is so frustrating to me when I see teachers refuse to try tech tools. Sometimes we just have to dive right in and experiment, trial and error.

  2. It appears you and I teach in very similar environments. I also teach math in a school full of kids who come from either affluent or financially stable homes. Most of my kids have access to an abundance of technology. I understand the challenges you see with today’s generation and I understand the frustrations of veteran teachers trying to keep up. I earned my college degree over 30 years ago. The things I learned in college worked well with students in the 1980’s but it certainly did not prepare me for the kids I have today. Even though I took a break from teaching, I still have enough years with my district where I can retire very soon. Four or five years ago, I thought I would continue teaching for a long time. The frustrations I began experiencing with our digital generation made me rethink that idea. I determined there were only two options. I could either relearn how to work with the kids I am given or I could retire and pursue plenty of other options. The fact that I’m enrolled in the Ed Tech program shows which course of action I chose to take. Sadly, I’ve seen many of my peers choose the retirement option. I have seen many phenomenal teachers leave the profession because they felt overwhelmed. I’ve also seen some leave who really needed to go. Teaching is a challenging career. Trying to stay current with the latest and greatest technology takes dedicated effort, regardless of a person’s age. Young teachers entering the profession will face the same challenges that older teachers face today. I find encouragement knowing that kids still need guidance from those with more experience. I also find encouragement knowing that the teachers role in a classroom no longer means they are the single source of all knowledge. We may not be the most tech-savvy person in the room but we can still stimulate engaging, thought-provoking lessons.

    • Scott-
      I like your statement acknowledging teachers are not the single source of all knowledge in the classroom. I certainly thought this was the case when I first started teaching! This is an important piece of my teaching and learning now, trusting in others as well as technology to deliver information.

  3. Parent-Teacher communication is so important and it sounds like you do a great job of that. According to the article What Parents Want in School Communication, parents want school news in the form of an e-mail from the district/school, district/school website, telephone/voice messaging system. I’m sure the parents of your students appreciate updated and timely grades posted and regular emails. As far as what parents want to know the article claims parents want updates on their child’s progress or insight on how they improve and timely notice when performance is slipping. Parent communication is something I an always trying to improve on. My husband teaches middle school and he does a good job of calling parents if his students grades are low or behavior issues (good or bad). I often look to him for insight on how to approach a parent, because for some reason parents make me nervous. I don’t do well if I have to encounter a parent who is defensive about their child. After nine years of teaching I am getting better, but there is always room for improvement.

    OBrien, A. (2011, August 31). What Parents Want in School Communication. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/parent-involvement-survey-anne-obrien.

    • I was never comfortable with parent communication in my initial years of teaching. But due to the high volume of communication that goes on at my school, I feel I’m getting better and better every year. We do not have parent teacher conferences and instead hold parent/teacher meetings in the morning before school with our guidance department if need be. It’s our job to initiate the idea of a meeting because it’s never good when parents have to initiate due to lack of communication on the school’s behalf. So I’ve learned to call about anything and everything to cover all my bases. The more you practice, the better you will get at formulating statements and conversation when you do encounter a defensive parent. But unless you make a point to make frequent contact, sometimes it’s hard to get that necessary practice in before a tough situation arises.

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