Teaching Tip: Is Technology a Help or a Hindrance?

Barb Gomez, Huntley District #158

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Are we really advancing our children in the classroom with the use of tablets, the Internet and “the Cloud?” Since the beginning of school, I’ve been wondering about that question myself. We teachers are faced with so many advances each year in the classroom and new requirements for professional development. What affect is this having on the English language learners? Is the use of the “tablet” or the iPad a help or a hindrance? Is there adequate training for our teachers prior to using them in the classroom?

As an ELL teacher for over 20 years, first with adult literacy and then with middle school children, I must admit that I’ve never taught the same materials year to year. Although my curriculum may change, the truth remains: children learn from teachers how to speak proper language, how to write grammatically correct sentences, and how to be good listeners. There is no replacement for the interaction that a child gets with a teacher. They will remember the teacher who took the time to interact with them, who listened to them, who was compassionate about their language and academic struggles as well as understanding their personal life issues.

The challenges that we all face year to year will undoubtedly change. I have learned a great deal about the new technologies that are available to me from apps on the iPhone to educational websites and e-books. The KUNO, the iPad or the Kindle may be replaced with something new next year or the year after. You may not receive the proper professional development that you need to be really proficient at any of them, but you can always try your best. So here are some simple lessons to remember:
  • Children really don’t care how much you know until you show them how much you care.
  • Children like to teach their teachers something new on their tablets or computers.
  • Relax and don’t show signs of stress with your students because they will react to it.
  • Always have an alternate lesson plan available in case the Internet doesn’t cooperate with your plans.
  • There is no replacement for reading a good book or telling a good story.
  • Learn to enjoy the resources that are available to you in your present situation.
  • Make your students feel comfortable in your classroom by respecting their ideas.
  • Know your students as well as the curriculum you are teaching. They will grow and blossom in your sight!
In answer to the question “Is technology a help or a hindrance?” I think you need to find the answer yourself. It’s all in how you view it!

Happy travels this year, teachers, and enjoy the ride. Your students are ready to learn from you.
Barb Gomez is currently a middle school teacher in grades 6, 7 and 8 in Huntley District 158, where she has taught ESL, English and Social Studies for nearly 20 years. 

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ITBE Link - Fall 2013 - Volume 41 Number 3

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