I really try to understand teachers that have reasons for not understanding or implementing technology into their lesson. Usually, the reasons that I hear are at least on the surface pretty legitimate: no time, too busy studying for the test, or they simply do not understand the technology.
Usually, I can counter most excuses. I can point teachers towards proper professional development, or I can show them how the technology that they are afraid of can actually help their students learn, or that their lives can be made easier.
But today, I met a teacher that I really had no way of getting through to.
This teacher came over to where my wife and I were eating, and after exchanging pleasantries, she began to ask my wife if she could have printed copies of some lessons.
“Those are all online” my wife said, “You can download them and print them out yourself if you need to.”
“Oh, I know that. But I don’t like to download things.”
That made my ears perk up. She doesn’t like to “download things.”
Don’t you have a new teacher laptop” I asked, knowing that every elementary teacher in our district has received a new laptop computer just for instructional purposes
“Oh, well, I like the old computer in my room. The desktop was better. It was a Dell.”
“Okay, I asked, why don’t you use the desktop in your room?”
“Well, it was stolen. So I am afraid that I shouldn’t bring my laptop because it will get stolen. And I don’t want to be responsible for it.”
“So you don’t use your brand new laptop because it might get stolen? Where is it?
“I keep it at my house. And I don’t have the Internet at my house.”
“But your curriculum is online, what are you teaching if you haven’t downloaded them?
“Well, that is why I want your wife to print it out for me.” she explained exasperated.
“You know you really should be using the technology you have been given. Ask your kids, do they use technology” I pointed to the woman’s teenage daughter and son. “Don’t you guys use computers?” I asked, hoping that maybe her own children might lead her to enlightenment. Her daughter looked at me. “I hate computers. They crash all the time.”
Ah, here we go. The apple does not fall far from the tree.
I thought a lot about that conversation afterwards. In just a few minutes, this one teacher was able to think of at least six disparate excuses for not using technology.
* Prefer print over computer
* Liked old computer over new
* Afraid new laptop will get stolen
* I don’t have the internet
* I don’t have the technology with me at work
* I don’t like to download things
Pretty good huh?
But she is not alone. Essentially, this person is using ANY EXCUSE possible in order to avoid using technology. Sadly, teachers like her will also think of lots of excuses why her students shouldn’t be using computers either. I don’t really care if she wants to avoid technology. My real concern is that her kids are being denied technology because she is afraid of it.
We always talk about creative uses of technology in schools, well, I propose that we start a list of creative EXCUSES of technology. The technology equivalent of “my dog ate my homework” it is time to start a list of excuses that teachers and administrators use to avoid using technology.
On my blog site, I asked people to give me some of the excuses that they have heard from teachers over the years. The responses were revealing:
I can’t take them to the computer lab because it takes 7 minutes to walk there and 7 minutes to walk back. THATS 14 MINUTES!
“I’m going retire in a few years.”
“My students already perform great on state tests; I don’t need to change instruction.”
“Technology will replace teachers in the classroom. We’ll all be out of a job - you just put on a video or direct them to a website instead of having a teacher explain it.”
“Because they will never learn how to write cursive if we let them use the computer for all their writing.”
“It’s not in our contract, therefore, not mandatory.”
“I will never learn technology skills until I’m forced to do so, and then paid for my time spent learning.”
“They won’t learn to spell if they have spell-check.”
“All of the computers are broken.”
“We get to technology at the end of the year.”
My all time favorite was this one:
“Computers are a fad in education.”
The list went on and on. The point is, there are a million excuses NOT to use technology in the classroom, but if your child’s teacher has built-in excuses as to why they are not using technology in their teaching, then you need to raise a stink.
Technology is part of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, and is included in EVERY subject area form grades K-8. There should be no reason why students are exposed to better technology in their pockets with iPhones or other cellular technology, than in their classrooms. No excuse.
This year, when you meet your child’s teacher, ask them explicitly “When is my child using technology in this class?” If you don’t like the answer, go speak to the school’s principal. Maybe you can even help the school out with their technology issues.
The point is, there is no longer a good excuse, in ANY curricular area, for students not to be using technology as part of their everyday learning experience. If a teacher has an excuse, that is exaclty what it is: an excuse.
Be proactive. Ask the tough questions. Demand the correct answer.