Today I rode my bike. Living in (usually) sunny southern California I can do this almost every day. I don’t. There are a variety of reasons why, but I want to share just one. My husband used to be an avid cyclist (100 mile rides in 5 hours multiple times a month!). He decided to buy me a fancy bike about 5 years ago. Back then I’m sure he showed me how to use it properly. Apparently I didn’t listen or didn’t remember. Recently I decided I needed to get out more and wanted to start riding again. The bike was ready and so was I.
My first ride in several years was hard. I came back super sore. Why? The hills were too hard and the valleys were too fast. (Apparently my town is NOT flat, as I discovered on the first long ride!) I didn’t know know how to use the gears properly. I was doing more work than I needed to and wasn’t making the tech work for me. My friend, Cori Orlando, wrote a blog post, Walking Your Why. I completely agree with her, but as I had my epiphany today. If you don’t know the HOW, it doesn’t work. They have to work together.
As I took my ride, there were a lot of people getting out as well. Most were very friendly. A couple even gave me encouragement! (Use your toes, you can get up this hill!) There were two sets of families that really stuck with me. The first is in the picture above (taken with dad’s permission). A dad, a son, a dog. They figured out how to use what they needed to ride as a family. The dad casually rode his bike with the dog jogging along (happily I might add). The young son, probably 5 years old, rode a motorized bike that allowed him to stay at the same pace, or just a little faster, as the rest. They were making the tech work for them. On the return trip, I saw another larger family. Three kids and a couple adults rode their bikes. There were a few adults who ran. The last member of the group was on roller skates. Everyone was doing their thing and they were all staying together. They were using whatever tech worked best for each of them. If I am to get better at riding my bike, I need to get better at using the tech.
Same goes for our classrooms. Teachers and students are given various types of tech and told to go. Many of both groups are at a loss. Teachers will assign students to go on various websites to play academic games or write an essay. Students will go on YouTube or game websites and do their own thing. Some teachers have learned what else the tech can do and get their students to create. Maybe they have had more training or have figured out a few things themselves. They have figured out some of the HOW.
When our district first rolled out 1:1 Chromebooks for classrooms, we had a 2 day training on different things you can do with the computers. The training was pretty good, but for many it was overwhelming. It was a lot for someone who was new to the tech, just like my learning how to use the gears. There have been a few more trainings since then, but again like my gears, if it doesn’t happen regularly we tend to forget and rely on old habits. It’s important to offer support in HOW to use the tech on a regular basis, but it also has to be willing accepted. If my husband had forced me to ride my bike more over the years it would have been something I didn’t want. I had to be ready to learn.
I use a lot of tech in my classroom, a lot of times at the higher end of the SAMR model. However, I need to remember that everyone has their way to using it. It’s okay if teachers are beginning with having students go on those academic websites. It’s okay if students are using YouTube to learn a few things. They are figuring out their HOW.
As I finished my ride today, I realized a few things. I was doing better with the gears. I got confused a few times and went the wrong direction (higher gears when I should have been in lower) and worked more than I should have. But it was easier than the past few rides, and I am less sore. In the process I had a lot more fun (see my last blog post for more on this). I figured out HOW to make it work for me.
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching