In my early years of teaching, I found it difficult to leave my comfort zone. I felt comfortable being in my classroom, by myself, doing my own thing. As my years of teaching began to accumulate, I slowly started to overcome being comfortable all of the time. Things changed for me many years ago, when I was allowed to speak to basketball coaches at the North Dakota Coaches Association convention. I was terrified. The thought of getting up in front of my coaching peers, many that were good friends of mine, caused me tremendous anxiety. I was speaking to more knowledgeable coaches, that won more games, and were more respected.
This moment in my life was transformational, not because I gave the best basketball speech ever, but because I found out that I was capable of doing more. I have always wondered where I would be if I would have declined to speak that summer. How long would I have been content with where I was in my career. This was transformational for me as I began to develop a much larger collaborative network of coaches. Coaches were asking me for more information about my presentation. We shared drills, scouting reports, game plans, and VHS game tapes. I slowly started to find out that I was a resource and what a cool feeling that was. Never in my life did I envision getting phone calls from coaches asking for my “two cents”.
Shortly after this moment in my basketball coaching career, I began to reflect on my teaching. I felt I was a good teacher, I worked hard, and most students enjoyed my classes. Something was still missing. I wanted to become a better teacher, but to be honest, I had never spent much time studying teaching practices that were different than what I was currently doing in my classroom. I dedicated many hours of my life to become the best basketball coach I could be and the consequence of that was a stagnant classroom. I knew it and I believed that my students knew it. I would listen to teachers, veteran and new, speak about teaching practices and educational terminology I had never heard of before. On the inside, I was ashamed of how little I knew and wondered why I let this happen. I knew I had several years of teaching left and decided I need to invest in my teaching the way I invested in my coaching.
In the last half of my 29 years of being a classroom teacher, I have not been afraid to try new things. My students were ‘guinea pigs” for many crazy ideas I wanted to try. Some ideas were great, some were flops. I noticed a change in my attitude toward teaching. I was never completely satisfied with what I was providing for my students. The Internet and I become close friends as I scoured hundreds of web pages looking for the next best idea I could try. I began to read literature on best practices in education and tried to take those ideas and incorporate them into my teaching. I slowly began to feel empowered by what I was learning and what I was able to offer my students.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the first teachers at my high school to have 1:1 devices in my classroom. Learning how to incorporate the use of computers and the many facets of educational technology was a daunting task. I spent countless hours learning how to use the Internet, apps, and learning management systems effectively for my students and myself. I was at a different place in my life than some teachers. My children were getting older and did not require as much of my free time. I retired from coaching basketball after 28 years. I was shocked by how well my brain started to work when I was not obsessed with being the best basketball coach I could be. The bottom line is I had more time and a new vested interest in being the best teacher I could be.
Time is precious to all teachers. Some of you have more time than others. Teaching has changed drastically and we are being asked to do more all of the time. A common phrase I hear from teachers is “when will I have the time to do that”? Every year it seems we get more initiatives we need to add to our already overloaded workload. Many teachers are choosing to walk away from the profession because the demands are getting to be too much. They are taking too much of our time.
What if every student showed up in your classroom with a computer? For many of you, not a lot will change, as you have been using technology for years. The rest of you are probably going to ask the age-old question, “when will I have time to use computers”? This is a legit and fair question. Hopefully, this is where I can become one of your technology education resources. In the fall of 2019, I was hired to be our high school’s first Technology Integration Coach. I am excited about this opportunity and applaud our district is moving toward helping our teachers reach their technology goals and allowing me to be a resource for them. My goal for newbie teachers using technology is to make it as simple as possible. Starting with small things to get your feet wet, while gaining confidence in incorporating technology into your classroom. My goal for the veteran teachers of technology is helping you take that technology to the next level with your students.
My hopes is that this blog reaches as many teachers as possible and serve as a platform to spread effective, efficient, and engaging practices in our classrooms with the use of technology.