Rookie Teachers and the Pressure To Integrate Technology

Image credit: Atlas Media

It’s finally mine. I spent four years sitting in the back of various classrooms with my constant list of mental notes running in the background. By the end of student teaching, I felt like my head would explode if I didn’t get to start making the decisions soon.

I graduated and was lucky to find a principal who was willing to take a risk on an inexperienced, right out of college, high school English teacher. I stepped into the classroom, amazed by the reality of it all. Thirty desks, two whiteboards, two bulletin boards, four windows, a projector, a teacher computer, four student computers, a sound system with a microphone, and a Smartboard on a metal track. It’s funny how quickly it became “my room.” I moved the desks, certain I wouldn’t be a row teacher. I rearranged my desk space to free up a corner (because what else would I do with that fridge from college?) Sound system? Smartboard? Ehhh… I’d get to that later.

I think people forget what their first year of teaching is like. It’s no one’s fault; it’s how time works, and for some, it’s probably better that way. But one thing that is a very real factor in any first year teacher’s experience is pressure. I had all of these expectations for myself. I wanted to be liked and respected, creative and engaging. I wanted to make learning fun. I wanted my kids to walk out of the classroom with a true awareness of the impact words can have in the world. I wanted to walk the talk of my list of positive traits of a teacher. One of those traits is tech savvy.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve experienced any outside pressure to use technology. My administrators are phenomenal and have been great about supporting me without placing heavy expectations on me. More than anything, I’d say I’ve experienced internal pressure. It’s clear that technology is becoming integrated into our classrooms. Even the items in my classroom suggest that technology use is the expectation. The “Technology in the Classroom” course I took in college didn’t really cut it for all the things I would experience.

If technology is really to be used as a tool, then I have to have a purpose for using it. The problem is as a second year teacher I’m still trying to figure out what the purpose for each of my lessons really is. Thus, I hope effective integration of technology comes with time.

This is where I feel like veteran teachers have the upper hand. You’re still changing things – I hope that you forever are – but you have a firm foundation and a general understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Now you have the opportunity to determine what technology best lends itself to your lesson.

IMG_1463-200x200There’s often a tangible divide between new and veteran teachers, and technology has increased the gap. No one wants to admit their weaknesses. But there’s so much possibility. There’s so much potential benefit to both teachers when a new and veteran teacher link up. You’ve got the content; I’ve got fresh eyes and idealism.

We can make a great pair, but veteran teacher, please take the first step. In the same way that we have our students come alongside a new student, welcome your new teachers in. One of the most frustrating things is knowing that there’s a problem in your classroom but not knowing how to vocalize it, or even to identify what the problem really is. Having a relationship with a coworker where you know that you are not going to be belittled or merely directed to a tangential story of their own successes or failures makes a great difference. Especially in the Twittersphere, there’s all kinds of talk of being a “connected educator,” but I think technology holds the potential to connect teachers even within their own buildings. People must be willing to leave their egos at the door.

It’s still absolutely unreal to me that I’m the teacher now. I continue to feel that at some point the real teacher is going to walk in and tell me to stop messing around and sit back down in my seat, but it hasn’t happened. In the meantime, I’m doing everything I can to make sure that the mental list notes that an observer would take in my class are positive ones.

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Britt DeWitt is in her second year of teaching high school English. She loves her job and is excited about getting more involved in the Education world down the road. She can be found on Twitter at @bwitty20.

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Britt DeWitt

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • My advice when considering the reasons for tech integration in your classroom – it’s not about “achievement”. When I say achievement, we all know that most are thinking outcomes on tests, and that’s what I’m referring to. The motivation for teachers to work hard on tech integration should be tied to creating a relevant environment and supporting the belief that students have a human right to access the knowledge of the world and the tools to create, collaborate, and communicate in pursuit of learning. When I say “a relevant environment”, I’m referring to the importance of creating an environment in the classroom where it is easy for students to connect what they are doing inside the classroom to things they see happening outside of the classroom. The less relevance the classroom has to the student’s outside world, the less they tend to believe that what the classroom has for them is important, especially as they get older.

  • I think the pressure is on everyone to integrate technology…not just rookie teachers. I’m a second year teacher in PA and recently joined twitter (Mr_Cassidy_) to look for ways I could integrate technology…which is how I came across your blog post. I found it very relatable as I am a second year teacher myself. I taught in 1st grade last year, and teach in 4th grade this year. My first year was quite overwhelming as I’m sure yours was too from your post. I immediately felt the pressure to integrate technology into my classroom with the smartboard being front and center in my room. I found professional developments collaboration the most helpful for integrating technology, and it’s my hope that branching out on twitter through blog posts like yours will do the same. In my opinion, technology can help create an environment in your classroom, but outside of your classroom as well. As technology advances, students advance, and we must not limit our expectations to just in school…but outside of school as well. Technology allows for this connection and bridges the gap between home and school!

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