I love integrating educational technology into my classroom. I also love shoes. So when I was working on my Google Certified Educator training, it’s perfectly natural for my ADHD brain to wander to shoes.
So I was thinking about all of the similarities that the two have.
8) Discover what’s Practical
I’m not going to lie, this one is a real struggle for me. I like new and shiny things, with both Ed-Tech as well as shoes. I love the new 3-inch platform heels and I can think of some really cute skinny jeans AND some really fun party dresses that I can wear them with. The problem is that I’m 5’10” when I’m barefoot and slouching a little. When I wear 3-inch platform heels, I have to plan on LITERALLY bending over to carry on a lot of conversations. It’s not impossible by any means, but it’s not comfortable.
With technology, you can have a similar experience. New shiny tools are so fun and exciting, but if you aren’t prepared to use them, it’s going to be very uncomfortable to learn in front of a class full of kids. Also, it seems that with technology that the more “moving parts” that go with it, the more potential problems that you will have. You don’t always have to stick with what’s practical like I don’t always have to stick with flats, it’s just important to be aware of possible outcomes of utilizing something outside of your comfort zone.
7) Look for what can enhance what you already have
It’s super tempting to buy shoes and then go and buy a couple outfits to go with them, but unfortunately, that’s just not in my budget. The more sensible (and I hate being sensible, it ruins fun sometimes) thing to do is to find some shoes that would look great with at least 1 thing I already have and then maybe add on to the wardrobe over time.
In the classroom, lessons shouldn’t be built around a particular technology. Instead, if you have a really fantastic technique or lesson, think about what piece of educational technology could enhance some part of your lesson. Could technology add some 21st-century skills like collaboration or problem solving?
6) Can you get multiple uses?
I think this is an important one. With shoes, I see the new shiny ones and instantly want to buy. But the real deal is that I’m a teacher, a mother of 3 and I live on a farm. I wear muck boots helping my husband feed cattle far more often than I wear sparkly heels. I like the sparkly heels way better, but if I’m going to get multiple uses out of them I have to think about how they would feel slushing around in cow poo. (Just kidding.)
With Technology, I like to ask myself “How many ways could this app or this device be utilized?” For example, a speech generating app like Proloquo2Go could be used not only for generating speech for students with significant language delays, but it could also be used to build grammatically correct sentences. The learning curve is so steep with some bits of technology that if a teacher is going to spend their precious few minutes learning a new tool, it’s really imperative that it not only brings value to the teacher or students but that it also is extremely versatile. Time is precious!
5) Special Occasions
So now I’m going to counter a few of my previous claims here…. just with shoes, there are those few special occasions. My husband and I recently spent a week at a resort and let me tell you- I wore my heels every single day! One night we went out for dinner and then went dancing. I was loving my shoes until I wasn’t anymore. I’m not conditioned to wear heels so by the end of the night my calves were on FIRE! I watched “Scandal” last night and admired the ease in which Abby wears her heels all around the White House. She (in my imagination, I realize that is a fictional Shonda Rimes creation) has conditioned herself to wear those every day. She did not wake up one morning and think “I’d really like to do that…. and so I shall. Every day.” It was instead something that was built over time.
Technology is the same way. There are really fantastic apps and devices available today and some days you may have a stellar idea for integrating it into a lesson. DO IT and LOVE IT! Revel in your creative awesomeness! But unless this is something that you have carefully built into your day over time and conditioned yourself to, you will probably be emotionally tired when you are finished. That is OK. Be gentle with yourself. Be proud that you took on that challenge. Maybe next time you could add to that lesson to work on building up your repertoire of tech tools!
4) Daily Wear
On the same token as above… For my teaching job, I rely on flats. Cute flats, and sometimes boots are my go-to shoe. They are attractive and comfortable.
In the classroom, I have a set of go-to tech tools that I rely on. Nothing fancy but they get the job done for basic tasks. For math facts, I use the website “Moby-Max.” I don’t utilize it for teaching more complex mathematical concepts, but for basic memorization, it does its job. I wouldn’t use that for an evaluation day, but when I need to reteach to another student, it is a handy tool to let another student use independently. The Kindle is another great “Daily Wear” tool because it has a read aloud feature built into many books and students with reading delays can listen to the same text as their classmates. It brings them value, it enhances what’s already being done in the classroom, but it’s simple. Sometimes simple is really ok.
3) What kind of maintenance is required?
This is also probably a similar piece but think about the maintenance involved in a tool. As much as I like really fancy shoes, if there is a certain maintenance to them, I will not buy them. It’s just not worth my time.
This is where Ed-Tech is a little different. Does the tool require you to closely monitor things? Do you have time to perform that maintenance? If you do, then great. If not, I would be careful to not over-commit yourself to something that isn’t realistic to maintain. If you are concerned about it but really think it’s a great tool, maybe try a short-term project and see what you think and what the students think. Maybe it’s not as intensive as you thought. Maybe it’s worse. It’s better to set yourself up for a situation that you can get out of without letting people down than to become overwhelmed and burned out.
2) What is it going to be used for?
I think this is a really important question to ask. When buying shoes for something like a wedding a person could be drawn to the really fancy shoes, but if you have to wear them all day for pictures, to dinner and then dancing, they need to be pretty and practical.
In Ed-Tech it can be easy for us (OK, maybe it’s just me) to get wrapped up in the awesomeness of a tool and forget the purpose of the lesson. It’s always important to go back and reflect on what the objective of your lesson was before you get too excited about a project. Is technology driving your lesson or is the lesson driving your technology choice? There shouldn’t be a lesson created JUST because you found a new tool and you can’t wait to use it. The objective of the lesson should be created and then the tech tool can be utilized to make the student experience better. Otherwise, you could be left wondering what the point of all your hard work really was, and that would be pretty frustrating.
When choosing shoes we look at several different things, which could vary from price point to occasion, comfort or even orthotic needs, whatever works for you as a person.
When choosing technology, we also have to go through pretty much the same set of questions… Do I have the funds for this? What occasion or objective is this serving? What level of technology am I currently comfortable with? While you are probably not going to stick an iPad in your shoe for arch support, you need to think about the individual levels of support for your students. Can I use this tool to differentiate for my diverse learners? It’s whatever works for you as a professional and serves your particular classroom needs. It’s as personal and as different as every single person, classroom, or footprint.
Most importantly, don’t be hard on yourself if your learning curve is steeper than you think it should be. It will be ok. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to integrate technology that you forget the reason for the lesson. Use the lesson to guide the technology choice and slowly integrate it as you condition yourself and develop a level of ease and comfort with the program or app.
If you are interested in some free video tutorials about technology, I’ve got some right here along with some checklists that are really useful.
For a sample lesson with some built-in technology using Google Drive, you can also download this for free.
Be sure to check out my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!