Am I Still An EdTech Gal?

I read this post by Dean Shareski a while ago now, and I’ve read other posts in response to it. Dean’s post stuck with me because in many ways, I could connect to it. I’ve sat on blogging my response, but it was a few recent experiences on the picket line that inspired me to write.

For our picket duty, we are with four other schools. On the first day out, I met a kindergarten educator whom I’ve met before. I couldn’t remember where we met until she mentioned attending some PD sessions of mine about the use of technology in the classroom. Wow! When was the last time that I did that?! 

Then on Friday, I met a high school educator, who recognized me from Twitter. Again, she connected me to my technology use. This was also what happened when I moved to a new school in September, and met a teacher there who knew me from some past technology PD. She asked for help with her classroom blog, but also offered to help me with the SMART Board if I ever needed it. “Remember all of the SMART Board activities that you used to do, Aviva,” she said. How do I tell her that we now just use the SMART Board as a screen to share documentation and video clips during our meeting time with the hope of inspiring new learning for the day ahead?

I cannot tell you the number of teachers I meet that have referred me to as the “technology teacher.” They still do. They talk about the tools I used in my classroom, and how I even taught Grade 1 students to blog and use GoogleDocs. I did. But would I still?

Our kindergarten students use very little technology. They will occasionally use an iPad to capture learning or research a topic of interest (often with support). A child’s asked to use Siri before for help with his snail habitat. This was one of the few times that one of our students indicated a need for a tool.

We’ve used ExplainEverything a few times outside with kids to record learning, but usually with us being there to partake in the discussion. Last year, ExplainEverything along with texting allowed for a few girls to connect with my teaching partner, Paula, when she was away sick: getting some feedback from her on their ideas for a Pet Salon.

Right now, the iPad is used by a couple of children to take photographs of their dolls modelling the clothes that they made. Determining how to style the dolls and feature the clothing is part of this learning: media literacy in our kindergarten world.

Occasionally our students use different forms of technology in the classroom, from a light table to a data projector (often linked to building or art). It’s interesting to see though how they quickly move away from the tech tool and to different surfaces or experiences. Is this due to the materials that we have in these spaces, or their interest being more than the tool?

Considering more common forms of technology, it would be fair to say that our young learners can go weeks (or even months) without using computers and iPads in the classroom. We have access to them, and the kids know where they are, but our provocations and learning environment does not rest on the use of these tools. Often an iPad is used more by us to document learning and the process of learning, so that we can further reflect on it with our students. I think that this photograph sums up what you see the most often in our classroom: a device in the middle of a table (or sometimes on the floor) surrounded by artistic tools.

I’m good with this change in my teaching practice. I love that our young students are learning how to connect and problem solve with each other, and experiencing the sensory play and multiple tools (from blocks to art supplies) that meet their developing needs. I worry about too much screen time, and while we do use devices to capture learning, both Paula and I try to stay focused on the child and not on the device. This is likely the reason for so many shaky videos! 🙂

All of this being said, I’m still seen and known because of my technology work … or so it seems! But I actually spend far much more time now blogging and talking about kindergarten, play, and Self-Reg.

  • Is it my previous experiences that have gained the most traction?
  • Is there less interest in these other topics?
  • Is it hard to step away from the EdTech connection?

Every time somebody mentions my technology experiences, I want to say, “Our students actually rarely use technology,” but I wonder how these thoughts will be perceived. If I was teaching a different grade or in a different assignment, would my technology experiences from the past still be my current reality? I think that my learning around play and Self-Reg would have me re-exploring the use of devices in the classroom (regardless of age), but maybe this is easier to say than do. There was nothing wrong with being an EdTech Gal, but now I see myself as so much more than that. What about you?



4 thoughts on “Am I Still An EdTech Gal?

  1. Hi Aviva,

    I know you wrote this two weeks ago, but the post has been percolating in my brain and I only now got around to answering.
    You asked:
    Is it my previous experiences that have gained the most traction?
    Is there less interest in these other topics?
    Is it hard to step away from the EdTech connection?

    I know that I first met you through ECOO and online. I was introduced to you as this incredible educator that did such amazing things with technology and her students. And then, there’s the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. What year was that, again? That’s somewhat hard to erase, and if I recall correctly, the nomination mentioned your innovative use of technology. Our first memories of people are often the ones that stick with us, but we evolve and move onto other things. I know that for myself, for the longest time, I was associated with Minecraft. I’ve distanced myself from Minecraft for a couple of years since then, but for some people, that’s how they’ve stored me in their memories.

    The important thing is that you haven’t boxed yourself into a “I’m an EdTech Gal” category. (Sometimes I wonder if I’ve done that to myself with library; have I so closely identified myself as a teacher-librarian that I may have missed other opportunities because it didn’t fit with my self-concept?)

    Maybe kindergarten and self-regulation is less “sexy” a topic than ed-tech. EdTech seems to have a wider reach, because even though we should all have early years teaching strategies as part of our repetoire, for many, they may say “I don’t teach kindergarteners”. You’ll find fewer people who outright reject edtech in the same way.

    Thanks for letting me think about this a bit more.

    • Diana, thanks for thinking more about this post and then replying. You’re really making me think more too. It was funny, for as I was writing this post, I thought about the Prime Minister’s Award, and how without my Ed Tech experiences, I probably wouldn’t have even been nominated. It’s funny, as I know that I’m a much better teacher now than I was back then (I think it was in 2013 or 2014), but I don’t know that I still meet the qualifying factors. Isn’t it funny how we change?

      You’re right. When I first met you, I knew you because of all of your work with Minecraft. I still think about your gaming connections, and yet, I also think about what you do in the library. Recently, I’ve connected with you the most over kindergarten, which I always find so interesting, as you teach far more than just kindergarten, and yet, blog and tweet about it a lot. I love that!

      I never really thought as much before about how we view ourselves and each other. Once we get an impression of others, what does it take to change that impression? Does it matter if it changes or not? Maybe I will always have a bit of an Ed Tech Gal in me, but I now know that I’m also far more than that.


  2. Hi Aviva,
    I have a few moments, as my student teacher sets up some provocations for a kindergarten lesson, to reply to your reply.

    Gosh, I so agree about being a better teacher before an award (I won the Canadian Teacher-Librarian of the Year award in 2008 and I feel like I’m improved [and slipped a bit, but that’s another story] so much since then.)

    I think I write so much about my kindergarten experiences because they make me think the most. I’ve struggled with some of the concepts and positions recommended in the course (like the toy thing) and part of the way I work it out is through writing about it. It’s intrapersonal, even though by posting it, it becomes interpersonal as others chime in. But maybe the kindie thing resonates with you because it is part of your passion.

    Why do you ask such powerful questions? You ask:
    Once we get an impression of others, what does it take to change that impression? Does it matter if it changes or not?
    It made me think of a student (CM) who I really have to work hard to enjoy and find the positives, and part of that stems from when he was in JK and scribbled all over my wooden book shelves with crayon. He’s in Grade 2 now. Have I forgiven him? Yes, but it set an impression in my head of him (“trouble” / “impulsive” / “volatile”) that I really need to fight against because that’s my default mental image when I think of CM. A great Red Maple book that has that as a subtheme is The Unteachables by Gordon Korman. The protagonist is a teacher, Mr. Kermit, whose career is forever tainted by a cheating scandal involving one of his students. The student, as an adult, re-enters Mr. Kermit’s life. Mr. Kermit has to wrestle with the idea that even though it’s the same person, the student is NOT the same person who ruined Mr. Kermit’s life years earlier.

    My question back, I guess, is “Why or how or when do we need to change impressions of people? And who does the opinion-changing?”

    Thanks Aviva!

    • Hi Diana! Thanks for your reply! Congratulations (much belated) on your award! I would love to hear more about how you’ve become a better and “slipped a bit” since then. Your words are making me think more about how I’ve changed since my award.

      I love that you question/wonder so much, and since your latest wonderings connect with my kindergarten passion, I may be even more drawn to your posts (if that’s even possible). I love when people choose to think and push back a bit. Sometimes I think a lot of learning happens during this discomfort.

      Thank you for also sharing your story of the past in connection with my questions. You’re getting me to think more too. I wonder if some of the onus is on us to change how people view us. But as adults, sometimes I wonder if our past selves make it harder for others to see past this, even if we attempt to change. What do we need to do to get people to see us differently? I keep thinking back to myself. In many ways, I guess I’ve wanted people to see me differently. I know that I’ve changed, and I like the new me. Maybe even better than the old me. I’ve tried to help people see this new me through my blog posts. Before this post, I can’t remember the last time that I’ve blogged about technology, but it was probably only a blog or two ago that I blogged about Self-Reg and/or play. That said, I think that many people still see me as that “Ed Tech Gal.” Is this because they don’t use my social media accounts (including my blog) to learn more about me (possible, particularly for colleagues) or is this because past impressions are still too strong? I wonder …

      I think that it is up to those that want to be seen differently to help inspire this change, but what has to be done to switch this impression? I’m not sure that I know. What about you?


      P.S. I hope that this all makes sense. The time change is making me extra tired tonight. 🙂

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