EducationLeadershipProfessional ExperiencesTechnology

Innovation is not about the tool

By February 25, 2016 No Comments

Screenshot 2016-02-25 at 7.46.47 PM

One of the things I get to do in my consulting work is to play a coaching role with teachers throughout the year.  This week I was in classrooms observing teachers who were 1:1 with Chromebooks.  Some lessons were okay.  Some were good, and others were fantastic.  A second grade teacher was having her students work in pairs to research famous people that they would then write biographies about.  These students were using books as their primary research resources, and then creating timelines on shared Google Drawings.  They had to find 7-9 important events (with dates) that helped answer the essential question surrounding this person’s fame.  The students were engaged, focused and excited to be working on the project.  
Toward the end of my time, I had a few minutes to chat with the teacher about her instructional practices.  She told me other ways she had been integrating technology into her classroom, and I was excited to hear some very innovative things going on there.  She was telling me all the ways she uses Google Drawing with her class.  I mentioned that I think it might be the most underutilized app in the GAFE library because it is so versatile.  She looked a little sheepish and replied, “I feel guilty for using it so often.  I feel like I’m supposed to be always looking for new resources and tools.”  I stopped her right there and shared my thoughts on the subject.  Innovation does not happen because every student has a digital device in your classroom.  Innovation does not happen because you introduce a new web tool every week to your students.  Just like I didn’t see “wow” lessons in every classroom, you won’t get “wow” results just because you use some kind of technology.  It’s the teacher that makes innovative instruction happen – not the tool, not the device, not the website.  Good teaching is still good teaching.  It’s all in how the available resources are utilized.  I’m more impressed seeing Google Drawing being used to modify instruction than to see numerous other web tools used as substitutions for paper/pencil activities.  

I believe every person should be a constant learner.  I am always excited to hear about a new resource and try it out for myself.  I am completely energized by sharing these new finding with other people.  But I’m equally enthusiastic to share “old” resources and the ways I enjoy using them, because when it comes down to it, innovation is most definitely not about the tool.