Unlike many of my fellow peers, I am rarely woken by the “radar” sound on my iPhone. Usually, the early morning ramblings coming from my child’s crib are the first thing I hear in those wee ours. We’ve been blessed with a (very) early riser.
This is not to say that my morning routine is void of technology. In fact, soon after waking, I pick up my phone and check to see if I have any missed messages from the night before, notifications on any social media apps, or emails. Even if I don’t see the little red notification circle on any home screen icons, I still usually spend at least some time scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, or more recently, getting the daily Wordle done before I leave the house. I value the opportunity technology allows me to stay up to date with the goings-on in the lives of my family and friends. I also appreciate the outlet it provides to just…mindlessly scroll. Sometimes, it’s soothing.
Though I’m not currently working as I write this (thanks, broken leg), if I were, the school day would involve a variety of tech. Before the kids arrive, I would turn on the projector, as something in my daily plan would inevitably involve viewing a video, PowerPoint to accompany a math lesson, or any number of other things I wanted to make visible to the students in a whole-group setting. A number of teachers in my school division are “Connected Educators”, meaning they have access to one-to-one technology for all of the students in their classroom. Although I applied for this program, I was not chosen for it. Instead, I regularly use an Outlook calendar to book shared devices for my students to use. On average, I would say that my students use the laptops for about 1.5 hours each day, depending on the nature of assignments as well as availability of the devices.
Throughout the school day, I use various digital programs for a range of purposes. These include email, OneNote, Seesaw, Microsoft Teams, Planboard, and Clever. My students regularly use programs such as Adobe Spark, Knowledgehook, and more recently, my students and I explored PenPal Schools, a space that allows students to connect and converse with students from around the world. I have tried blogging with my students here and there, and have incorporated media tools such as Wakelet. Unsurprisingly, many of my students also have personal technology that they use throughout the day, depending on the current classroom policy surrounding cell phones.
This brings me to my qualms with technology. I’m at a point in my career where I struggle to find the balance between encouraging and teaching purposeful and positive technology use and constantly policing improper use during class time. It feels like a never-ending battle trying to pull my students’ focus away from TikTok when they’re supposed to be creating commercials for their business expo products or some other project I wrongfully assumed would be engaging enough for them to not even be tempted by their mobile apps. Sometimes, it feels easier to just say “Okay, no cell phones, period.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t the solution. And truthfully, I know it too. But I do struggle to find that balance. In an ideal world, every student who came into my classroom would have their own personal device and together we could use them to learn and fight for justice and solve all the problems known to humankind. But we live in the real world where inequality abounds, and personal devices such as iPhones allowed in the classroom present the dangerous risk of widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots. As a teacher of adolescents in the process of exploring and becoming who they are, I am more concerned about doing what I can to prevent students from feeling “lesser-than” in their own classroom… (and also with the whole being too concerned with their Snap streak thing to pay any mind to reducing fractions).
After the school day, once supper is finished and my daughter is asleep (or at least happily singing in her crib), I would typically either open up my laptop to do some correcting or planning, watch a show either solo or with my husband, or just relax and scroll. Sometimes, I’m okay to end the day this way. Sometimes, I wonder if I could be doing something better with my time…
And that’s what my day in the life – technology edition – looks like. In a nutshell, I appreciate technology and all that it allows for, including educational technology. I am, however, hesitant and even a bit resistant to fully immersing myself in this complex world. I am looking forward to challenging some of my own beliefs about the pitfalls and shortcomings of digital technology in this course and hopeful to maybe even find some solutions to my conundrums.