As I reflect back to the beginning of this technology course, all the feelings of being inadequate with technology were present. I am quite a bit older than a lot of the other classmates and while I have had a lot of teaching experience, I did not grow up with the technology training or experiences as most of my younger peers. I had the feeling that I was coming upon a hurdle that may be too tall to clear. During the discussion posts, as I reflected upon the readings of each week, I gained strength and knowledge with reading my classmates reflections and reading their responses to my own reflections. I began to look at technology in a different way. I also learned that I wasn’t lacking that far behind my classmates with my technology skills. I needed to remember the words of Costa and Kallick (2000) “in reflective schools, there is no such thing as failure—only the production of personal insights from one's experiences.” I would need to remember this. No student should fail, and no educator should fail, as we all have to learn at our own pace and in our own way. The reflections helped me understand my fears and gain confidence at the same time. During all of this mental turmoil, I realized that the purpose of this course was to help me grow and gain new information that would help me grow as a person.
This technology course would teach me that I am learning as a learner, but in my own way. According to Gerstein (2014), she believes some of the “other skills and attributes” of the 21st century learning are “grit, resilience, effective oral and written communication, vision, critical thinking and problem solving, self-regulation, and empathy and global stewardship.” I can now say that I agree whole heartedly. It took grit and resilience in not letting the skills of the computer leave me behind. As part of the course assignment, a group of students had to make a collaborative webpage. I used Facebook and a Google document for my written communication with my team. I was fortunate enough to have a group of educators that wanted and had high expectations for our efforts into our project of creating the website. We tossed out ideas, our imagination, and our vision into what we felt our website should be. I learned to be accepting of others, even if my ideas were still lurking in the background of my mind. I gained new learning of how to embed resources into our site, as well as learn how to use some new technology tools. I created my own logo using my imagination and problem solving skills. I put my faith and hope into my classmates and valued their opinions of my own thinking. Their validation of my efforts helped me gain confidence in my technology efforts. I realized that I had faced technology as a huge monster and that wasn’t the case at all. I was learning, having fun, and succeeding. I wasn’t as technology challenged as I had previously thought. I now feel very confident in knowing how to create my own website and how to embed all the various resources into my website as well.
The knowledge that we can gain with technology is never ending. I know that I have gained skills and new thinking of myself that will be useful to me throughout my life. With the help of my classmates, course readings, the discussion forum, my professor, the web conferences, and other avenues and resources, I have learned that by intertwining hard work, critical thinking and problem solving skills with my own perseverance and quest for knowledge, I can learn anything. It is this drive that I must instill in those I lead and educate, regardless of the age. As a lifelong learner I must challenge those educators that I will lead someday to reach out and not be afraid. There will be those surrounding them that can help, collaborate, teach and lead them into new learning, just as I have been in this educational journey. There will be new strategies, new technologies and new ideas that will be worthy of our investigations, and we must do so with “grit, resilience, effective oral and written communication, vision, critical thinking and problem solving, self-regulation, and empathy and global stewardship” (Gerstein, 2014). This process of learning will be reflected upon and new learning can emerge. According to Gerstein (2011), “the only way that educators can teach and promote reflective practice by their students (of all ages) in their own classrooms is to engage in, embrace, and fully understand this process themselves.”
Implementing the use of web 2.0 tools into a PK-12 classroom is essential for today’s students. There are numerous websites within the reach of teachers that can be used in everyday teachings from the pre-kindergarten level to grade twelve. I believe that we must first make sure that all teachers are comfortable with using various web 2.0 tools, so that they will implement them into their lesson plans and classrooms on a daily basis. This would be done through professional development and leadership on the administration. Schools need to have detailed expectations for teachers regarding the use of web 2.0 tools. Students are already using them and just need to be challenged with their use of the web 2.0 tools. That challenge must come from teachers. Students need the teacher’s guidance to do more than just play with the tools. Schools need to implement the guidelines for when, why, and how we should be using the web 2.0 tools. If we address the use of web 2.0 tools with the teachers, then the use of these tools within the classroom will be used every day! It is up to the teachers and schools to make this change.
Costa, A. & Kallick, B. (2000). Getting into the habit of reflection. Educational leadership; sustaining change. 57. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr00/vol57/num07/Getting-into-the-Habit-of-Reflection.aspx
Gerstein, J. (2011, August). Where is reflection in the learning process? Retrieved from http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/where-is-reflection-in-the-learning-process/
Gerstein, J. (2014, February). The other 21st century skills: why teach them. Retrieved from http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/the-other-21st-century-skills-why-teach-them/