Staying at the Top of Your Game: The Tools of the Teaching Profession
To stay at the peak of their profession every occupation from sanitation and office workers to educators must have the latest tools of their trade to be enabled to work smarter not harder. My neighbor, Josh, a journeyman electrician, carries almost thirty-five pounds of equipment for working on high rises in a belt on his hips. Thankfully, it’s much less physically arduous for teachers.
The Importance of Technology
To keep your image as an educator at the top of our profession and to work smarter, not harder, one simply must strive to obtain more technology in their classroom. However, not for one minute am I suggesting teachers start buying computers for their classroom.
While an impressive 63.5% of teachers surveyed3 stated they did purchase their own interactive whiteboard (SMART Board, ACTIVBoard, PolyVision, or Mimio) teachers can improve their teaching with technology without laying out their vacation dollars, also. Here are just a few technological improvements that will increase your image, but won’t require you to take out a credit union loan or use your hard-earned savings.
1. Class Website
Most districts are providing hosts for teacher websites today. But, there again, is that word “basic”. You may want to go outside their host to enable yourself to have a more than basic sight. One I most heartily recommend is www.teacherweb.org for a mere $25 per year. Two key questions to ask yourself when deciding what information to include on your site could be: 1) How will I entice my students to visit our classroom website every day? 2) How do I make sure parents are also visiting and using my site daily?
The answer to both questions is to entice them with a page on the site that lists the daily homework and possibly an upcoming project calendar. Yet, no matter what the grade, to increase daily traffic, include a photo with every homework listing.
2. Document Camera
Discuss with your school administrator where there might be funds for a document camera in your room with which to replace your overhead projector. I only had this amazing instrument the last two years of my teaching career, but couldn’t imagine how I’d ever done without it. Here is an excellent link to see a working document camera and how it can increase engaging learning for your students.
This piece of equipment made it possible for me to want to stay in teaching my last few years. It added such fun to my teaching. This enabled me to show my class information directly from online via its connection to my desktop computer. National Geographic videos, Google earth, current events, anything on the internet appropriate was on a large screen and in color. My third graders were mesmerized.
The projector cost about $600 at the time. How did I get one? I borrowed one from the principal (she had it for staff meetings) for Back to School Night and demonstrated it to the parents. I pointed out to them that the only way their student would have the benefit of us having one was if they banned together and bought it for the classroom. I guaranteed them it would stay in the room if I even left and I did keep my word on that when I retired. Each parent returned their $25 donation envelope as I kept announcing our donation total on the website daily. You can find out how to teach with one on this link.
Would you believe? I finished my last teaching decade in the Silicon Valley, around the corner from eBay and one town away from Apple. One would think if any place on Earth had great technology it would be our schools, yet I had to make all of the above possible through research, PTA, and my students' parents. If you, too, do not teach in an area where you can count on even parent help there are online sources to help teachers get needed upgrades such as the above. http://www.donorschoose.org/ is just one of the many. Be sure to check to see if your county education has a list of companies in your area who give teachers innovation grants.