By Dr. Ramiro Zuniga
I was in the audience at a technology conference presentation earlier this month. As I listened to the presenter, a thought came to mind. I immediately recognized that this thought was one that I had experienced many times before. In fact, this thought had come to mind during several sessions during this conference.
Let me begin by acknowledging the many benefits of attending such conferences. I absolutely believe in the value of networking and idea exchange. I also appreciate the opportunity to gain new information on how technologies are being utilized by teachers and others in the educational arena.
During this particular presentation, two teachers spoke of the technologies they utilized with their kindergarten students. These teachers presented with great energy and excitement. They boasted about the students already knowing how to log on to the district network to access the Internet. Those who do not work in the classroom may not realize that this is actually quite a feat. In most kindergarten classes that I visited, the teacher will log in the students as the students may not remember their passwords, lack keyboarding skills, and so on.
During their presentation, the teachers shared how they were teaching their kindergarten students to create movies and digital presentations as well as keyboarding.
These teachers realized that all students are expected to be computer literate as they progress through the higher grade levels. Given that reality, they asked, “Why not in kindergarten?”
Needless to say, I was very impressed with these teachers and their energetic forward thinking.
Once the presentation concluded, I approached one of the teachers for a brief discussion. I shook her hand and congratulated her on a great presentation. I told her that I assumed that they were more the exception and not the rule at their district when it came to technology integration. She confirmed what I know is still a reality:Technology integration in the classroom is still not occurring as we would all like. I then asked her what the teachers in the higher grade levels are doing to continue their inspiring work. Sadly, she told me that few of their colleagues were as familiar with technology as they were. I asked if she had spoken to her campus principal about trying to encourage other teachers to do the same. She had, but there unfortunately wasn’t any real support from the principal.
I shook her hand once again and thanked her for what she was doing. I told her, “At least you’re doing your part. Keep doing it.” I can only hope that she recognized how much I appreciate and recognize her efforts.
I walked away inspired, knowing that some of our teachers are working to raise the level of technology integration. At the same time, I walked away disappointed that I continue to see these teachers as exceptional and extraordinary. These types of teachers should be the norm.
Unfortunately, I have had many discussions that have unfolded in the same manner. I often find progressive teachers who are too few in numbers,most challenged with little support.
I would suggest that campus administrators have a tremendous power in raising the level of integration in the classroom. I certainly understand that campus administrators have a lot on their plate as it relates to running their campuses. Nonetheless, technology integration in the classroom needs to increase and administrators should help find ways of making that happen.
Campus administrators need to decide, at least for their respective campuses, the types of technologies that their teachers should learn to use. More importantly, they should create an environment that allows teachers to work together in integrating more technology into their lessons. It is only by doing this that students can continue to learn how to become truly technologically literate. It doesn’t make sense to me that students either stop using or have to learn new technology simply because they are moving from one grade to another. There needs to be continuity.