Getting The Message Right

Are You Listening-







A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from a friend. In the message was a picture of the Promethean ActivPanel with the statement, “If we want to transform our district, we should put one of these in every classroom.”

Here’s a summary of our conversation:

Me:  We’ve looked at it and may get a sample to play around with it, but going 1:1 kinda eliminates that need….

Them:  The whole “Digital Transformation” doesn’t work for me. It can be another way to isolate “our” students. By “our” I mean students who make up our demographic, i.e., students of poverty. They learn best when they make “REAL” connections. I’m not talking FB, Instagram, Kik, SnapChat or Twitter, but human connections. They need human connections to be successful.

Me:  The technology doesn’t eliminate the need for face to face connections. Anyone who is doing it that way is doing it wrong.  The technology makes it easier for teachers to immediately assess to determine individual needs. It frees up time that can then be made for individual and small group instruction.

Them:  In your room, sadly you are an exception to that rule! I go into classrooms everyday and watch as technology is used to keep students “busy” NOT “engaged” as teachers sit behind their 💻 and answer the staggering emails we get or shop online, I don’t know. I conference with students and monitor where they are online. Students have to be taught to use technology effectively, efficiently and most of all correctly. An “Acceptable Use” form at registration or when the device is issue won’t cut it, when Little Jaheem goes to White and not and is looking at pornography. Where’s the teacher not monitoring, engaging or teaching small groups/individuals.

Me:  I agree that we have much work to do! And maybe that’s educating our administrators….because that’s who I blame if those things are happening in classrooms and are not being addressed. Students AND adults need to be taught how to use technology effectively. Our responsibility is to ensure that students receive the best education possible. And the obstacles to that happen on so many levels….district, community, school. I just feel it’s important to stay focused on those that need my support the most, the kids. I understand and empathize with your frustration. I’m just making the choice to use the tools that I have access to to make that possible.  I frequently think about this.

  1. Before the tech, teachers used “worksheets” to keep students busy.
  2. Before the tech, teachers sat on their butts.
  3. Before the tech, students cheated, brought nudie magazines to school, etc. The tech isn’t the problem.

The conversation disconcerted me.  I went back to my director and asked, “Is it me? Am I sending the wrong message?  What am I NOT saying that would cause people to misunderstand what I’m trying to say?”

A week or so later, I had a conversation with someone who had visited the “Flipped Classroom To See” as she was told.  She was sorely disappointed.  She said, “I don’t get it…”  What she saw was students watching videos.  No small group….no partner work… individual conversations with the teacher…no student creation.  In trying to get our teachers to be comfortable with this change, I am sorely afraid that I have not been clear in MY MESSAGE!

So let me say this for the record…..”IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TECH!  IT’S NOT ABOUT THE APP!  IT’S NOT ABOUT THE VIDEO!  It’s about the way these tools allow you to have more time in your classroom for human interactions between the teacher and his/her students.  It’s about how we can immediately see where students are struggling so that we can immediately provide assistance and redirection.  It’s about how we can differentiate our instruction so that we can accommodate the needs of all students.  It’s about the way we can encourage our students to be creators of content and not consumers.  It’s about creating critical thinkers who are productive citizens in their society.  It’s about preparing them to be….better, stronger, smarter, more innovative.  It’s about preparing them to be…..more.”

Until the next time,


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  1. Amen! Amen! and Amen! Well said, Carla! Thinking about your closing statements, my students this week are creating campaign commercials for a presidential candidate. Several things happened here: 1) they used an online tool to discover which party and which candidate they most closely align with. That led to TONS of conversation between students over who their candidates were, especially when it turned out they sided with someone OTHER than who their parents side with. And 2) the first thing students started doing for the video is forming themselves into groups to help each other film the commercial and play supporting roles in each other’s commercials. Tell me that is not face to face interaction, problem solving, critical thinking, etc, etc. I think this friend of yours needs to visit a few schools of poverty where the technology is being used well and encourage that in his / her school. OH, and also, sadly, those who need to read your message, won’t because they don’t know how to subscribe to a blog (or don’t care to subscribe). 🙁

  2. I love this! Too often the technology is being blamed for the lack of teacher involvement. But it isn’t the technology’s fault. The teacher must be actively involved in the process. Showing videos isn’t a replacement for the teacher, it is simply a stepping stone in the process 🙂

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