Dear new teacher: Overwhelmed? 7 ideas to help

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dear new teacher: Overwhelmed? 7 ideas to help

New teacher technology

Now is an unprecedented time for new teachers.

If settling into the profession wasn’t enough, there are technology standards, 1-to-1 laptop or tablet initiatives and educational technology to embrace.

It’s an exciting time for new teachers, but it’s a complicated one also. My first year of teaching was so overwhelming, trying to find my voice as a teacher and a grading system I was comfortable with.

If I had today’s technology in my first year, I would be thrilled about its potential. But I probably wouldn’t know where to start.

Here’s the advice I would give beginning teachers in that situation:

1. Add a little at a time. I’ve tried wholesale changes all at once. Didn’t work well for me. If you want technological enhancements to your curriculum that stick over time, take it one step at a time.

2. Don’t compromise good teaching. Sound pedagogy should rule. It’s so easy to find the new, shiny gadgets and tools. Finding technology that makes teaching better isn’t as easy. If it doesn’t make the learning experience better, leave it out. In fact, if the learning experience is the same with or without technology, I’d still leave it out.

3. Take time to teach new tools to students. We often assume that students are tech experts. Technology has been part of their lives since they were born. But they only use what they’ve learned and are comfortable with. Thorough instructions and time to tinker are musts.

[RELATED: 12 ideas to prepare students for jobs that don’t exist yet]

4. Stay on the cutting edge. Follow sites that notify of new digital tools that can help in the classroom. I suggest Free Tech For Teachers by Richard Byrne and Mashable as a good start. You can always check out their new content on their websites, but it’s easier and better if you …

5. Use Twitter to connect with others for ideas and support. Twitter hosts a robust community of educators willing to lend a hand to others. They’re constantly sharing teaching ideas and articles and providing support. Join the conversation by joining Twitter (see how here) and following other educators (including me at @jmattmiller).

6. Once you’re using Twitter, participate in educational Twitter chats. Educators gather at a predetermined time on Twitter to discuss and share ideas that work. There are a ton of Twitter chats every day of the week, and it’s easy to learn how to participate in them. A list of active chats is listed here.

7. Don’t fear failure. Let’s face it. A project or activity that utilizes technology is going to blow up in your face. (OK, even if it doesn’t have technology, it’s still going to happen.) When it does, roll with the punches. Be flexible. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Learn from your mistakes and be better next time. Your students will forgive you, especially because you’re willing to try new things and be more relevant in their lives.

What other advice would you suggest for new teachers? How can the settle into the 21st century classroom? Leave your advice in a comment below!

(For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links, “like” Ditch That Textbook on Facebook and follow @jmattmiller on Twitter!)

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