This is a re-blog post originally posted by Chris Wise, and published with kind permission. The original post can be found here.
It’s been a little over four years since my first foray into a one-to-one laptop classroom. To say its impact on my classroom has been profound would be a vast understatement. I’ve seen dramatic improvements in student outcomes and watched students complete the most incredible work. We had to learn things on the run; by trial and error; often by error; as few people in our region had much experience to pass on. So, here are my five things to consider when beginning a one-to-one device classroom:
1. You will still need to teach
The technology won’t do the learning for your students (as much as some online programs would like you to believe). One-to-one should change your teaching; becoming more a guide and facilitator, with a focus on micro-teaching rather than whole class instruction. The teacher is still the primary motivator and navigator. Who was it that said, ‘A teacher that can be replaced by a computer, should be?’
2. It won’t make your job easier
It might make your job different. It surprises me how many teachers see my students working independently on laptops and assume I must have it easy, without considering how those students got to that point or thinking about what it means to have 30 students all working on individual projects at the same time. One-to-one means more teaching on the fly, taking opportunities when they arise, having trust in students to complete tasks and be productive, and taking the teacher away from the front of the classroom. It’s a difficult adjustment for some teachers. I had a supply teacher tell me that he couldn’t take my class again – not because they were naughty, the classroom style was uncomfortable for him; he didn’t feel in control. The differentiation opportunities that technology offers are extremely beneficial to students, but there is no downtime in my classroom. It is a constant blur of feedback, emails, tech support and data, talking about students work on the projector one minute, headphones on listening to another student’s audio the next. It’s fun, it works, but it’s not always easy.
3. You don’t need to be the expert
Face it, every 12 year old already thinks you are old. Your students will learn how to use technology quicker than you – use that, and learn from them. You won’t need to spend lesson upon lesson showing them how to use the software. A lot of the best sharing and team building in my class has happened when someone learns how to do something and shares it, becoming the experts themselves. If you are focused on teaching software, it’s at the expense of something more important. And your students probably won’t be using the same software in a year anyway.
4. Join Twitter
A professional learning community like no other. I can spend ten minutes looking at my feed and find three new ideas to try tomorrow. I’m still learning how to make it work best for me, but it’s better time spent than almost every professional development session I’ve ever attended.
5. It is a journey
You will, without a doubt, do things in a one-to-one classroom that don’t work. There will be times when you won’t get the devices out all day (maybe all week). There will be plenty of times when the technology will make you so frustrated that you’ll wonder if it’s worth it. But, you’ll persevere, you’ll try again, you’ll try something new – because your students will keep producing awesome work. They’ll email you at all hours because they found a video on that topic you talked about in class. They’ll get through so much work so quickly, you’ll find yourself allowing them to take on personal projects and that will inspire you to try something new yourself.