The year was 2006. I was voted most tech-savvy among my friends on Myspace. To that point in my life, I had mastered the portable CD player and creating a Green Bay Packers themed MySpace page. I borrowed cell phones to call people and used Ask Jeeves past the point a person probably should have. I don’t think “tech-savvy” was the correct phrase to describe me.
Fast forward six years to December 2012, my first year of teaching, when I purchased my first smart phone. A co-worker and I both had new smart phones and we were excited to try these “apps” we heard so much about. “You should check out this app called Snapchat. All the kids are using it and it’s kind of fun!”. Sure enough, it’s awesome, and over the past two years I have developed a lesson for students to learn about similar triangles through the use of Snapchat.
Somewhere around the same time, I began using this thing called Twitter. You may have heard of it. My college roommate’s pet tortoise had an account and tweeted about eating lettuce, and my friends used it to share tidbits of our 2012 roadtrip. Little did I know four short years later I would be using it nearly every day to connect, share, and discover innovative ideas centered around education. Something happened in the years from 2012 to 2016, and it was great.
I share these stories to show that I really started out on the other end of the “tech-savvy” spectrum. I grew up with a computer, yes, but compared to my peers, I always seemed to lag a few years behind. Although I would say I was not very tech-savvy when I entered teaching, I would argue that I quickly became “tech-curious“. This has led to amazing growth for me as an educator and as a leader.
Being “tech-curious” is an old way of thinking wrapped with a 21st look. Being tech-curious means that you are realistic about the world in which we live and are determined to find the best ways for students to learn and for peers to improve.
Long before the modern era of iPads, Chromebooks, Smartboards, and apps the best teachers still understood their students. They understood pop-culture, they understood the most popular styles, and they understood the pulse of each generation; they understood what made their students tick. Today is no different. A teacher today understands that smart phones and other technology are part of our students’ lives, and it is our job to find a way meaningful way to bring it into our curriculum, pedagogy, and reflective practices.
I believe being tech-curious is important because using technology effectively offers students more opportunities to collaborate, publish their work, and personalize their learning. If you are a new teacher or experienced, tech-savvy or not, you have the opportunity to say “YES!” to being tech-curious.” The change is not instantaneous but curiosity begins to drive who you are as an educator, and you will constantly find yourself tweaking, refining, and asking “is there a better way?”.
Once again, I am labeled one of the “tech-savvy” teachers at my school. This surely has more value than my 2006 Myspace page, yet I still don’t really feel I have earned the title. “Savvy” really makes it sound like I have a clue what I’m doing. Perhaps a title more fitting would be “Likely to try new technology tools, probably screw up, share successes and failures and then annoy people with reminders to tweet their work as well”.
Kind of long winded…perhaps I’ll just go with the title – tech-curious.