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Just a Classroom Teacher?

I began my teaching career in Spring of 1992. Prior to teaching I worked jobs that required me to use computers on a regular basis, so I was considered a relative computer whiz. I was quickly pulled from the classroom to run a computer lab.

It turned out I was pretty good at helping students and teachers learn how to integrate the use of computers in meaningful ways for learning. I continued to serve education in this way for the better part of 15 years, at school sites and at the district level. Over time however, the role of technology support at the district level became more and more focused on implementing assessment systems with little time spent helping teachers and students use technology to support multi-modal learning, creativity, writing and critical thinking. I grew less excited about my work; what I believed was great about technology for students had gone missing.

When the funding for my support role dried up, I chose to remain in my district and become a classroom teacher. That same year I completed an educational doctorate with an emphasis in Educational Leadership. I am often asked why I stay in the classroom, when I could be a principal or teach at the college level. Initially, the move was most expedient for me and my family, but now I believe the classroom is the best place for me to be. In the classroom I am able to do the kind of action research that is needed to find the best ways to implement new technologies in education.

As a technology loving teacher, I am always looking for ways that learning can be enriched by new technologies. Teaching fourth grade is an excellent incubator for this kind of study. My students are engaged by things as simple as digital audio recorders, which they use to practice reading fluency. This past year I began using Edmodo, which looks like a social media site, where students can interact. As teacher, I set up folders where students could view science videos and work with interactives. I linked to Voicethread slideshows with pictures from our science field trips. After viewing and playing I had students comment in the forum, take quizzes, do polls. I counted the use of Edmodo as a success from the first day when I logged in and students had logged on to work in the class forum from home. Even now, over summer break, I am finding students have logged on to Edmodo to use the learning platform.

So, I don’t consider myself to be “just a classroom teacher” and I hope none of my colleagues in the role do either. Every teacher I know is conducting “Action Research” whether or not they call it by that name. Our goal is always to improve our teaching, make learning engaging, fun and help all our students reach their learning goals. I will continue to refine the use of technology in my practice to enhance the learning experiences of my students. My goal is to write about my experiences with the hope that others find inspiration, and to counter some of the images in society about teachers.

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