It was March of 2011. I had just returned from maternity leave after my second child. The day of my return was a teacher institute day. It was a great way to ease into my return. You see, I had spent most of the winter in the house with a little one and didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the world. A world that had just released the first iPad.
The focus of this institute day was technology. Our district had just purchased iPods for the library at each school and we were learning how to use them. Later, we also got to try out some iPads as well! The day was mostly structured as a demonstration of apps that we could use at our grade level. We talked about how a game such as Bert’s Bag taught kindergarten students 1:1 math skills. My colleague (fellow writer Nicole Ring) was sitting behind me and was beyond excited. If Amazon Prime had existed right then, I think an iPad would have been delivered with two-hour delivery right then and there to the school. However, she was able to wait until that evening before purchasing her own personal iPad. Excitement in the room was high and enthusiasm about these new devices was visible at our inservice and in the days beyond.
The following year, a school set of iPads were purchased. That summer, before leaving, each teacher got their OWN iPad to play on and learn with over the summer. The joy and excitement continued throughout the next year. Over the next three years, nearly every inservice was about technology. We were always learning something new and exciting. Teachers were beginning to move through the SAMR model. It started with substitution, and moved to augmentation. Some teachers stopped there, some were able to progress to modification and redefinition (check out our books for a better understanding of the SAMR model and its significance).
Then came curriculum changes, leadership changes, Common Core, and about a million other things (no surprise to you teachers reading this!). Thus, the deep instruction on technology began to fade, even as the district became one to one. Additionally, in the last three years, over ⅓ of 300 teachers in the district have 5 years of experience or less. Meaning that many of our teachers were handed an iPad for themselves and a classroom full of iPads with little to no direct instruction or guidance. While many new, young teachers were born when technology was readily available, the instruction on ways to meaningfully use technology was minimal. This left most new teachers having to figure out how to use iPads in the classroom in a meaningful way on their own.
My hope is that by reading this, you will remember that we cannot assume our newest teachers know how to integrate technology in a meaningful way. Even veteran teachers continue to need refreshers on how to continue to evolve in their use of technology in the classroom. So please, I ask you, as you continue in your technology quest, to continue to teach new teachers, and veterans, how to use technology in a meaningful way that will build and enhance the wonderful learning that is already happening in the classroom.