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Follow-Up: A Strengths-Based Approach to Technology Use

Robert Pronovost

When a Reading Recovery teacher sits with a 1st grader, she is not trying to determine a student's gaps and how she can fill them. Instead, she listens to a child read and analyzes the child's strengths, so she can use those strengths as a foundation in her instruction. Just as a Reading Recovery teacher looks for the strengths within a child, technology coaches and administrators should look for the strengths within a teacher's technology use.

This does not mean sitting in a teacher's room for 20 minutes to see if the teacher pulls out an iPad or document camera or uses the interactive whiteboard. It means getting to know the teacher and how the teacher uses technology outside of the classroom.

Perhaps the teacher loves Facebook and spends lots of time on Facebook connecting with friends, family, and even colleagues. A coach could share these posts on how to use Facebook in the classroom and how Facebook enriched Ms. Schoening's 1st grade class before asking the teacher to think about how to use Facebook in his own classroom.

How about Pinterest? While I haven't spent any time on this site, I hear about it everywhere, especially from people who are otherwise "technology-phobic." While the idea of using Pinterest in education seems to just be emerging, there is already a collection of ideas for using Pinterest in the classroom, as well as a list of "pinners" that teachers should follow.

Yes, there are teachers whose strengths may not be as easy to find, but wherever their strengths do lie—perhaps in texting, photos via Instagram, or even Yelp reviews—there is surely someone else who has thought about integrating those into the classroom.

Robert Pronovost is a 2nd grade teacher and student tech advisor in the Ravenswood City School District in Menlo Park, Calif.

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