Back in September 2015, when I first began my COETAIL journey, I wrote a post called Choosing a Path in the Digital Wonderland. I mentioned that I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland, who, faced with two possible roads, asked advice from the Cheshire cat about which way she should go. The cat’s reply: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” I realized that before I chose a path for technology integration, I needed to carefully consider where it was I wanted to go. What was it that my students needed? How would technology integration help us to get there? Thanks to COETAIL, as well as a terrific iLearning initiative at AISR, I came to understand where I was going, and I made a lot of progress on the journey.
I Got Lost
I did. I got lost. I stepped off the path to tech integration. After 9 amazing years at AISR, my family relocated to the US, and I began teaching MS Language Arts at a charter school in Utah. It’s a great little school, but it’s different from AISR (a virtual technology Mecca) in just about every way imaginable– especially in terms of technology resources. When I arrived at the charter, I realized that my classroom technology would consist of a ByteSpeed laptop, a teacher iPad, a projector, and a document camera. I was not issued any tech for student use. There were iPad carts, but they had to be shared among the ES and MS, and I couldn’t count on using them consistently. I went into survival mode and became what I had vowed never to become again– a paper-based teacher. It felt awful.
I Found My Way Back
Fortunately, once I got through those first stressful months of adapting to a new school, I began to find my way again. I truly believe in the power of technology to support and deepen student learning, and I want that for my students! So, I begged the administration for some tech, and they rounded up 6 mini iPads for me. It was a start. It at least made it easier to do Kahoots, Padlets, etc. But it wasn’t enough. So I submitted a Donors Choose project, which helped me raise funds for 8 Chromebooks for my classroom. We’ve been using those for a few weeks now, and the students LOVE them. They are more engaged, and their thinking is more visible. We’re publishing in Google Docs, responding on Padlets, creating Storyboards, etc.! I want more of that! So I put in a proposal for two more Chromebooks, and a few days ago, they were purchased for us by a corporate donor. Now we will have 10 Chromebooks! But I’m not stopping there. I won’t stop until I have a device in the hands of every student. I don’t care how many grant applications I have to write. My students are worth the effort.
Looking to the Future
In addition to the immediate effort to bring technology into my classroom, I am looking to the future of technology integration for my entire school. I put together a proposal for a school-wide technology integration plan. I recently met with the school administration to discuss it, and they are very supportive of putting it into action. It’s just a start– but we have to start somewhere, right? It feels good to be back on the path to technology integration. We all get lost from time-to-time. But if we can refocus on “where we want to get to,” we can always get back on track. Honestly, I had plenty of people tell me that “there was no point trying,” and that “trying would only make things worse.” But as Doc Brown said in Back to the Future, “Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”