I have been slightly off the grid for the last two months. My grandfather is very ill, and I have done my best to help my family with his care. We all took a very long, very much deserved vacation after finding some around the clock care for him and my grandmother. Throughout the process, I missed many invaluable Langcamp Google Hangouts that I said I would attend. And it’s ok. Even though I desperately want/need that priceless information and collaboration, I needed a break from my constant computer-screen-staring contest. And I have to forgive myself for that transgression. This time apart from my screen has also allowed me to really reflect on the very important role of technology in my life.
To be clear, I am not one of those educators who feel like technology is the be-all, end-all of education. I believe that it was Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell who said something to the effect of “technology for the sole purpose of using technology does nothing for our students”(something along those lines…sorry Mrs. Cottrell, I would search for it, but I am having a hard time with laziness after vacation!). I completely agree with this idea, especially after all of the recent news about major Silicon Valley Techie parents sending their kids to ivy league schools where screens and computing devices are completely banned. I mean, come on, what do THEY know that we don’t know? Maybe that their kids will be much farther ahead in life by having better interpersonal skills than ours? Maybe that their kids will be much smarter by not having to rely on technology for answers? Interesting, to say the least. Nevertheless, I am not a Silicon Valley parent, nor am I an ivy league teacher, and thus I teach to a very different demographic. I do believe that my students need to learn to think without technology; however, there are many invaluable opportunities that some technology affords my students, who rarely, if ever, travel.
Technology has drastically opened my world in the last two years, as well. Specifically, Langchat, the PLN in which I am honored to say that I participate. In fact, it was so influential and impactful that last Spring I tried very hard to convince the state foreign language teacher association to bring in a Langchat moderator to speak in our annual fall conference. The request was denied, but with the encouragement of Langchat moderators Colleen Lee-Hayes and Diego Ojeda, I wrote a proposal to the director of the conference to give a presentation on Twitter PLNs and the impact on teacher and student learning. And it was accepted. And this is possibly the most exciting thing that has happened to me thus far in my teaching career! I am bringing along two of my departmental colleagues to help me share the good news on all that the world of Twitter has to offer for teachers/educators: collaboration, resources, contacts, and even interpersonal practice for our students!
If this blog post feels a little ambivalent to you, then it is truly a reflection of my feelings at the moment. I am already having nightmares about having not sent out the weekly update emails to all the parents of all of the students of our schools (per my newest title: parent involvement facilitator), and August isn’t even here yet. I hope to strike the right balance with technology this year. I have eliminated many of the tools that I required students to use in the past, and I’ve only added one to incorporate next year.
What do you do to achieve the right technological balance in your classroom?