How well do you know yourself? Not in a psychology-based way, but as a reflection of the type of educator you are when it comes to digital age engagement.
In Rob Furman’s experience, there are four types of educators in classrooms today. Where you land among them determines your level of 21st century integration – and whether you are truly helping students become future ready.
Furman, principal at South Park Elementary Center in South Park, Pennsylvania, says educators who are future ready – and are also preparing students to be so – have moved beyond using technology for technology’s sake. Instead, they turn to edtech to prepare students for their unknown futures.
“We can’t get stuck in a rut where technology becomes the textbook. We need people who can get beyond that and help students use digital age skills,” he said.
Here are Furman’s four classifications and his take on next steps for each:
Resisters. These are the teachers resistant to change who refuse to engage in digital age integration. They say things like, “This is how I’ve done it for 30 years,” and darn it, they are sticking to it.
Furman has little patience for these educators. “If you’re lecturing and using worksheets, you need to accept that technology is here to stay or move along,” he says.
Assisters. These teachers can accommodate technology, but are still in need of assistance. They are often veteran teachers who are willing to learn but haven’t had the opportunity yet or find technology difficult to master.
Assisters should take the initiative to self-teach and track down the professional development they need to advance to the next level. “Get on Linda.com. Get Google certified as a level 1 educator. Take that step,” Furman advises.
Enlisters. These are the teachers who are willing to enlist themselves in the use of technology, but might also be in a state of transition. They are workhorses when it comes to helping the first two categories of educators, but their focus should be to get beyond the use of technology themselves and get to the point of deliberately and cognitively using technology to teach skills.
“It’s about getting past using tech because it’s fun, and instead, doing things that have digital age reasoning behind them,” Furman says. “They don’t need to learn, they need to reflect on ‘why’ and on being sure they are using technology with information-age skills in mind.”
Persisters. These are expert teachers who recognize the value of technology and are persistent in its use. They are steadfast in the face of opposition and pressure.
“They’ve got it going on and they have to stay the course,” Furman says. “They are the ones who have to make sure they are helping all of the others. They also have to say on top of the research, stay up on current topics and help bring others along.”