Do you have technophobia? That is the fear of technology. I remember being super excited when I was in my teens and the great big computers were coming out with the “advanced” technology of the time. Dial-up internet. It was the bomb! But, the older I get, sometimes I just think there is too much — and too fast!
It doesn’t matter if you are a new teacher or a veteran teacher; technology in general can be a bit terrifying. It’s not so much that it’s actually technology. It’s that often, as soon as new technology, software, and programs are released – and mastered – there is suddenly a new, more technically advanced version to learn. Then, when you throw in the fact that as teachers we are already crunched for time, so now it’s just one more area to learn, one more thing to add to our never-ending to-do list. And, we are told that we need to connect it/implement it into the students’ learning without training or with little training, so it quickly creates tension and a fear of technology within us.
Or maybe you don’t feel the above and instead, you are one who feels, “I got this” but then quickly feels pressed for lessons when the school server is s-l-o-w or, even worse, goes down. Sometimes it can be tricky to teach with limited supply or – dare I say it? – outdated technology. After a while you start to feel the dreaded, “I can teach just fine without it.”
Well, don’t give up — I’m here to help you with a few tips that I hope will turn around your feelings and fears about technology. I have been in all of the places above, and I truly understand. There are some days when I just want to go back to simpler times, but in reality I do like our technology, too. It’s not going away anytime soon.
Overcoming the Fear of Technology
Acceptance. First, to overcome the fear of technology, you will need to accept that technology is here and part of the curriculum now. It’s more than accepting that — it’s accepting that it’s always changing, and here’s the hard one…accepting that your students will likely know more about technology than you. This is usually hard to hear because there are a lot of teachers who believe that they have to be all knowing or at least know more than the student. That is not true at all. It’s okay that you don’t know technology as well as the students. It really is.
Flip Roles. You will be amazed at how willing your students are to teach you about technology. It’s okay to reach out to them and ask them to teach you. But if that isn’t something you are comfortable with, then instead of simply asking, “trick” them. What I mean by this is if you have a three-year-old (I have two, and wow, am I tired!), sometimes you “pretend” you don’t know something to see how much they know. Why couldn’t you do the same with students, but really you are learning in the process? Haven’t you ever heard your mother, husband, kids, or someone say, “I knew that. I was just testing you!” Same thing.
Tech Day! Why not have a tech day where each student picks something technology-based that they want to share with the class (or better yet, teach the class!) all about it? This is a great way to learn about new technology that is out there and how it works. (This is one way I keep up on what technology apps my teens are on! Haha.) Kids love this one!
Learn Together. Alright, maybe you didn’t like my first three ideas. That’s okay. What about learning together? Maybe you could walk students through how to find a tutorial on using software, such as Microsoft Excel. Then, watch it together, and as you do, demonstrate how to watch it, pause, try it, watch it, pause, etc. Or simply work through a series of steps one-by-one until the project is complete.
YouTube It. Well, it’s almost the same as the one above. If you aren’t sure how to do something with technology (or anything, really) – I guarantee you will find it on YouTube. Watch it from the convenience of your computer or smartphone. Watch it again and again until you feel you have it down. (And no one will know because you’re watching it privately!) I’ve learned a lot of things from YouTube!
Student Experts. Every class has an “expert” student. In math there is an expert at fractions and an expert at geometry. In science there is an expert at chemistry, and so on. Why not help students feel special and select student experts with tech projects, too? Tell them you’re going to take a back seat with this project and only answer the really important questions. Expert Johnny will help with technical questions, and so on. (Make sure you give Expert Johnny some sort of reward!)
Trainings. I know. If you had trainings, then you’d likely not need this blog post. But a lot of times, there are trainings outside of our school districts. For instance, most communities offer technology classes, just like they offer dance classes, art classes, and karate classes. Sometimes the library will also offer them, too. Don’t forget to check with your local ISD (county). Check into them. It might be well worth your time. Oh, and any PD training your district offers, you may want to jump on it.
Play Around. I’m sure someone right now is reading my post and cringing. That’s okay. I have a confession. Almost all of my technology experience and knowledge comes from just. playing. around. That’s right. I have not destroyed any computers or anything. Here’s a hint: If you see something that comes up and asks you TWICE (two different prompts), “Are you SURE you want to delete that?” (you know, the ones that make you think twice about what you are doing), that MAY be a sign that you’re about to do something that could really mess things up. That’s it. SO, play. Play away. (But make sure you can google how to fix ____. Kidding.)
Best Buddy. Make a friend in the tech department or in your building who understands your fear of technology. Perhaps even make arrangements with a colleague who is willing to teach you a few things after-school for a few days. Make a trade.
Start Small. The most important thing is to start small, no matter what. You will not be able to overcome the challenges of technology (and those listed above) if you bite off more than you can chew. It can be something as simple as just typing up a poem in a word processor program or using QR codes in the classroom. Then, slowly introduce more. Eventually, you could be doing full projects like making book trailers. You can do this! You can make it work…and after a while, you’ll love it!