Technology provides new avenues for teachers to develop and grow, but it can’t replace them.

Jul 30 2014

Teachers Come First: Reflecting on ISTE 2014

We are just over one month removed from ISTE 2014, and I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on my experience at the event.

The power of the event was in its people — in their collaboration, their vision for educational technology and their commitment to students. It was so exciting to connect Twitter handles with real people. The human element can’t be lost in the vast of amount new tools in our teacher tool belt. The amount of innovative educational-technology tools that were at the expo was both overwhelming and exciting. However, I keep coming back to what I believe is a simple truth: None of this matters without teachers.

Well-designed hardware is nothing more than an expensive paperweight without a great educator. Innovative software is nothing more than wasted megabytes somewhere on a server.

The Art of Teaching

I have long believed that teaching is a unique art. What is great about teaching today is the array of tools teachers have. But to systemically effect change and improve student outcomes, we must still focus on the fundamental pedagogy.

My hope is that all of you were able to make connections at the event and to go back to your schools and spread your newfound knowledge far and wide. The power is in this unprecedented ability to share and learn in real time. In today’s world, there is no excuse for not sharing what you’ve learned, so I challenge each of you to make it a priority to share more as the new school year is upon us.

Technology will never replace teachers, but it does give us new avenues for growing and developing more great teachers. As an education-technology community, we must embrace these new tools that break down not only the walls of our individual schools but also our districts, our states and our countries. If you are a school leader, I encourage you to re-examine your professional-development models. Do they reflect the way you would like teachers to teach, or is it still “sit and get”?

The most impactful thing we can do for our students, even with all of these new tools surrounding us, is support our teachers. Professional development should be as well designed as any critical initiative in a school; it should never be secondary to the deployment of the latest tool.

Here’s to unprecedented learning for everyone in the 2014–2015 school year!

[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology

This article is part of the Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.


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