The piece originally appeared on the CityBridge Foundation’s blog as a welcome to the 2016 Education Innovation Fellows.Â
To the 2016 class of Education Innovation Fellows,
Iâ€™m going to assume that you applied for this fellowship because youâ€™re not 100% happy with the way education is currently run and delivered in our countryâ€™s public school system. Youâ€™re in good companyâ€”Iâ€™ve met few educators who are wholly satisfied with it.
Iâ€™m also going to assume that you see some amount of promise and potential in technology and individualization as a lever to drive student achievement and teacher effectiveness/satisfaction. Youâ€™re in growing company there!
This fellowship was a life-changing experience for me.
Honestly. I have a feelingÂ of restlessness around the learning I see happening at my school that keeps me up at night. I canâ€™t stop looking at other schools, reading about innovation, and asking neat people for informational interviews. I have a sense of drive, an optimism, and an absolute obligation that was little more than a vague thought when I first applied for the fellowship.
So, with that, I have a few tips for you to get the most out of the fellowship:
As the technology specialist at a school, Iâ€™m constantly running into issues (our computers havenâ€™t arrived yet, the tech staff doesnâ€™t have time to install them, my lab is being used for NWEA testing, etc.).
But, never fear. There are a lot of ways to get nerdy with kids without needing a laptop for everyone. Here are my tips â€“ Iâ€™d love to hear some more, if you have them, in the comments!
1.)Â Â Code.org. Live it. Love it. Code it. This site is getting really well-known, but thereâ€™s a nice little niche that not everyone might know about. There are loads of â€œpaperâ€ activities that can teach little kiddos how to make a â€œprogramâ€ and much more. Itâ€™s especially great as a primer before letting students use computers.
(Pro-tip: If you have even intermittent access to 3-10 computers, do stations. Have students who have mastered the paper activities move onto computers!)
When I started my first teaching role, I was ecstatic to know that two of my classes would be â€œtechnologyâ€ courses. This excitement became frustration as my students and I struggled to have access to a quarter of what I freely enjoyed in high school. I had no curriculum, and the â€œtechnologyâ€ was Windows XP on some virus-ladden, ominously humming machines. These students were cheated out of experiences I (and many) expect from a K-12 education.
Technology fluency is an assumed trait most colleges have for their incoming students. That, of course, includes basic keyboarding and Internet skills, but there are also many assumptions about understanding more complex Internet database searches, MLA formatting and ability to navigate a variety of other systems of varying complexities.