Over the years, I have been in classrooms in different schools, divisions, and states. I have listened to educators speak about the failures of technology and the failures of the students. Most of the time, the conversations hint at a direct correlation between the students failing and technology failing. While this is true in a way, the root of the problem is a bit more complex than that.
In my last post, I featured a teacher that does an excellent job of setting up classroom norms and preparing her students for difficult tasks. She gives a set of numbered instructions on a daily agenda, keeps an up-to-date LMS page with important course material and dates, and communicates frequently with students and parents. When technology fails in her classroom, it is fair to assume it is because technology failed. I know that because the complex components behind technology succeeding are the emotional and social needs of students. Mrs. Christie consistently meets the social and emotional needs of her students and therefore, when using technology, she knows her students are ready to embrace the integration.
However, there are classrooms out there where the technology is failing because the students are failing due to a lack of social and emotional support–whether it be from home, school, or both. It is in these types of classrooms that I have heard teachers say that they cannot use technology because, “the kids can’t handle it.” True, they may not be able to handle it, but it is most likely due to the social and emotional needs of the students not being met. If a student feels emotionally or socially inadequate, problem-solving, creating, and thinking critically while using technology is probably not going to happen–at least not the way that it should.
Recently, much attention has been on Social Emotional Learning. This is the development of social and emotional skills necessary for learning. Thanks to initiatives like Virginia’s Portrait of a Graduate, states are focusing on more than just content knowledge. Schools are now being asked to teach the social and emotional competencies necessary for being successful in school and in the future. This is great news for those students that “can’t handle technology.”
So, how can educators use class time and even (gasp) technology to meet the social and emotional needs of their students? Here are some of the best resources/strategies from classrooms I see every day around WJCC:
-Take time to check in with your students. Ask them about their weekend, family, interests, sports, etc.
-Allow students time to explore career/future interests with websites like College Board
-Collaborate with your building ITRT to get training on technology and way to integrate it and also get support training your students on using the technology.
-Create clear “cheat sheets”, checklists, and rubrics for using technology. Students need to write down their login information and links to tools need to be clearly posted on a class website or LMS.
Please feel free to add to this list in the comments. 🙂 There are so many ways to support the emotional and social needs of students so that they can feel more confident to tackle technology integration.