In part one I wrote about the importance of safety as an Occasional Teacher. This month I started my days by discussing safety with students as part of my introduction and reminding them that in order for our brains to be ready to learn we need to feel safe. That includes being safe with our bodies, tone of voice and word choices. Then I worked on learning their names to build a rapport. I’d refer back to being safe throughout the day when issues would arise and it’s been helpful in creating a positive learning environment. Most of my work has been in the primary division so I’m interested to try this strategy with older students to see how it works.
Let’s address a question from one of the Heart and Art readers that is on the minds of Occasional Teachers everywhere, “How does one stay familiar with the changing technology presently being used in the classroom?”
I can relate to this question because I am not someone who adjusts quickly to new technology. I think I had access to Google docs for a decade before I started using it. Nowadays many teachers email me a link to their day plans with links to online resources included. I need to be connected to a projector and/or a Smart board to implement most lessons. In using this equipment I have to troubleshoot issues with sound, connection and even markers. Solving problems while keeping students engaged is very challenging but I know it’s worth it because the technology can engage more learning styles and reduce students being off-task.
Preparation is key. If I have the day plans the day before then I will read them over and be aware of the times that a laptop and/or Smart board are needed. If there is a laptop cart being used by students then I need to ensure there is time in the day to safely transport the equipment. Sometimes I need to try out an app that students are using or at least read or watch a video about it so I can assist them.
So far, I’ve found that students and colleagues are the best resource for addressing questions with technology. They are most familiar with quirky situations that arise in individual schools or classrooms. For example, I was in a room using a white board rather than a smart board and I could not find a dry erase marker but the students came to my rescue. In another room I accidentally plugged in the 3D projector instead of the Smart board projector but a colleague spotted the issue quickly.
If I’m feeling unsure about technology there are a few places I go for help. Sometimes the youthful people in my life can figure out my question immediately. This often happens with my cell phone. I have teacher friends in person and online who are an excellent resource. There are numerous groups in social media and I can pose a question there and usually get help very quickly.
My school board has a team who will answer questions and host professional development sessions on the latest software and hardware being used. ETFO also hosts pd opportunities that focus on technology including the summer academy.
Technology has changed constantly throughout my career. There were times when I had to learn and adapt quickly as new applications and equipment were introduced. Keeping up with the changes has helped my confidence and I’ve learned it is ok to ask for help, even if it turns out to be a very simple problem.
My adventures continue as a new OT and I may find more blog topics to continue this series. In the meantime, happy teaching!