As teachers, we all look forward to hearing about what an outside observer sees when they come into our classrooms. Sometimes, we are disappointed when particular parts of our lessons are commented on, especially those parts where we spent an extraordinary amount of time preparing. We get frustrated, upset, in all actuality we tend to go through all different stages of grief. But why?
I believe that teachers are bad at one thing consistently, tooting our own horn. It comes from the humility we learn day-in and day-out from working with amazing students. I was always that teacher that had to know why something wasn’t observed or commented on. As an instructional coach, I see things differently now. For example, an outside observer that comes into your classroom doesn’t usually have their fingers on the contextual vibe of your classroom. This means that they miss out on a lot of inherent understandings between the teacher and the students. Let’s take for a more specific example, technology.
Developed by the International Society for Technology in Education, the ISTE Standards for Students are “designed to empower student voice and ensure that learning is a student-driven process of exploration, creativity and discovery…” It is also important to note that the Texas Technology Applications TEKS are based on these national standards. When we as teachers go out of our way to include large amounts of technology because a lesson warrants it, we may (or may not) include some of these standards. However, what does it look like in our classroom to an outside observer?
I once had a campus principal ask me “If I walk into a classroom, I know that technology is seamlessly being integrated because … why?” At the time, I thought I knew the answer. It wasn’t until our campus went one-to-one with laptops that I understood the impact of what was really being asked. Technology is being seamlessly integrated when the students are using it in the same way as they use a textbook, or notepad. They are actively using it to be engaged with the content through discovery, making connections, or applying knowledge through creation. Some teachers may argue this point, however; if we are talking about outside observers, we have to understand that their perception becomes the teacher’s reality.
When instituting a lesson, most teachers go through three distinct phases: introduction, student processing, and assessment. Lesson introduction isn’t always that pretty. Sometimes it involves some direct instruction. However, when teachers are submitting lesson plans to administration, they could easily highlight the days when students are processing learned information (discovery, making connections, or applying knowledge through creation) and even days of assessment (in the case of student discussions and presentations/performances).
So, I ask you the teacher reading this, with the lenses of an outside observer, How is technology use evident in your classroom? Can you give me an example?