Classroom Management First, Technology Second
Graduates of University of Virgina's math teacher education program have had more success teaching with technology after a couple of years on their own than they had when UVa staff was helping them with it. This according to Joe Garofalo, Co-Director of the University of Virginia Center for Technology and Teacher Education, during a session he co-facilitated at the recent International Society for Technology in Education Conference (ISTE) called Preparing Mathematics Teachers to Use Technology.
Dr. Garofolo also speculated that the reason for this is that it takes time for teachers to get a handle on classroom management. And based on my experience, he's right. In fact, I've known many new teachers who've entered the classroom thinking their tech savviness would guarantee teaching success. But within a few weeks they learned the hard way that it's the teacher that makes the technology. And, as much as anything, it's classroom management that makes the teacher.
The message, then, for all teachers but especially newcomers is simple: of course you should use technology to help maximize student engagement and learning. But you must also use classroom management practices that allow students to benefit most from that technology.
So before you spend the summer planning lessons for the fall, develop a classroom management plan needed for those lessons to be effective. And if you're looking for a resource to help you do this, there's a reason Harry and Rosemary Wong's book, The First Days of School, has been so popular for so long: it's practical. The Wongs also provide lots of great--and free--tips and resources in their Effective Teaching column on Teachers.Net.
Of course there are many other resources with classroom management pointers, including this blog. It's also a good idea to reach out to experienced colleagues for suggestions. But regardless how you do it, what matters most is that you set yourself and students up for success when using technology in class. After all, as 2010 Washington Teacher of the Year Jamie Yoos said during a session he co-facilitated at ISTE called Improving Student Results in STEM Subjects, "Simply putting technology into a classroom, hoping that it will engage students is not the answer."
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