Our fourth graders are doing the Lightbot Hour of Code now because we were in the middle of keyboarding in December when the official event was scheduled. I noticed the students were trying to write the entire program in one full swoop and getting very frustrated trying to trouble shoot their code when it didn't work properly. I suggested they write a small part, test it, and then add a little more. They were much more successful when they took this approach.
In reflecting on this, I realized that one of the biggest lessons I have learned as a teacher is being patient and that taking baby steps can get you a long way when you look back over the years.
Image from: http://therisingmuse.com/2012/02/22/baby-steps/
I have been very fortunate. As a "specials" teacher, I get to work with the same students year after year and see their progress. At our school, I only get to see the kids once a week. With the younger kids that could mean only 15 minutes a week (we are a center in the classroom) and up to 50 minutes with the older kids. And with holidays, breaks, parent-teacher conferences, teacher workdays, field trips, snow days, etc. that seems hardly enough time to accomplish anything. But as the years go by, I marvel at their accumulated learning. And when I work with the 7th and 8th graders on a new tool, I am proud to see how confident they are and how quickly they pick up on things. Often within 10 or 15 minutes of instruction they are telling me about features and approaches that I never thought of.
The same is true when working with teachers. I'm so glad our school didn't mandate any rules around integrating technology into lessons. I've learned that if you want teachers to embrace technology you have to work with each teacher separately and try and meet them where they are. And move them forward at a pace that is comfortable for them. For teachers that are not comfortable with technology, that means one lesson at a time. It's important to try and make each lesson as powerful as possible with respect to "student learning" and as painless for the teacher as possible. Teachers are really busy and they don't have a lot of time to waste, so make it easy on them. And in the end, it's all about the student, so if they see students are engaged and learning, then the teachers will want to incorporate the lesson into their repertoire and try another one. Other teachers will see the success and be open to trying as well.
I have also come to the realization that if all the teachers at the school embraced integrating technology into lessons from day one, I wouldn't have had the time or energy to keep up. So it was a godsend it worked out the way it did.
When I was younger, I felt like things had to be done immediately. Everything was urgent. I would work 20 hours a day to make it happen and drive everyone around me crazy. Being a teacher has taught me to be more patient and introduce change in a way that people can embrace it.
When I look back on my four and half years of teaching I see how taking baby steps have helped me come a long way. In the beginning it seemed like a daunting task to create a technology curriculum, but I took it one class at a time, one lesson at a time, and one teacher at a time. I'm amazed at how much I've learned and I'm hopeful that I'll look back 5 years from now marvel once again.
I'll leave you with this amazing video that illustrates my point. Did you know if you folded a piece of paper 45 times it would be thick enough to reach the moon? Take a look at this TED-Ed by Adrian Paenza.