I lost my interactive whiteboard. I know it sounds crazy that this would be an upsetting thing, but I really feel like losing my Interactive Whiteboard made me rethink teaching! Here’s how it went down:
I was very excited when I started working in a low-income district that I would not only be given a SmartBoard but also a laptop and lots of other technology for my students! It was great! We mapped out our lessons on SmartBoards, added small video clips right into the sequence, and included thoughtful questions so we would not forget! It was a lot of work the first year, but very helpful to have these files made to match our lessons and be so thorough! Year after year we would tweak them and be good to go!
Long story short, I decided to move districts and when I walked into my new classroom my initial thought was… “where is my SmartBoard?” I almost cried. Literally. I had not even considered how not having my lesson mapped out would affect my workload when I decided to leave! My classroom did have one piece of technology that I recognized – an overhead projector! Wait… is that even considered technology? I expressed to my new principal how important this was and he assured me I would be next in line to get one!
In the meantime, I got back to basics. I opened up my manuals, I read the teacher’s directions, I thoughtfully planned, and I tried to remember what resources I had available to me for each concept taught. Yes, it was more work but in the long run, it was much more meaningful than going through the motions of slides on a computer screen.
I began to understand better how the different components of reading worked together. When I had my SmartBoard, the sequence of teaching reading became engrained in me. But as I went back to basics, I began to see more patterns in our language as I thought deeper about my lessons! I started to realize how the concepts all truly worked together – things such as missing one concept in phonemic awareness could really affect the kids learning to read. The SmartBoard ensured I hit those concepts daily but getting back to basics helped me to understand how crucial they depend on each other!
I was searching for new ideas and not just doing the same old thing I have done year after year! Not that I did not do any of this before, but when teaching reading from a SmartBoard slide you get into a groove of just reading and doing exactly what it says! It’s not your most thoughtful teaching by any means!
In March of that year, I wish came true and my SmartBoard was installed. Little did I realize that because the curriculum was different in my new district my SmartBoards did not work for my new classroom! Bummer. So I used my SmartBoard more like an on-wall computer or even TV to show snippets of videos that fit my lessons. I was OK with it. I was enjoying teaching like I had never done before!
My world was rocked again that May when I was transferred schools and, of course, my new classroom did not have a SmartBoard! As a matter of fact, my new classroom had 3 tables, one with a hole all the way through it, and a rackety old bookcase that was seriously a safety concern! I knew there was no way I would be getting a SmartBoard and that basic classroom furniture would take priority! And you know what… I was OK with it! I had learned that good teaching does not fall into a routine but requires thoughtful planning day after day and year after year!
And for the record, am I saying technology is not important? Of course not; it most certainly is! As a parent of a struggling reader, I have seen firsthand how technology has helped my son succeed! It has really made a difference. And as a teacher, my SmartBoard helped me have a consistent sequence for teaching! But what I am challenging you to do is to think about how you use your technology. Are you dependent on it? Are your lessons centered around it or is it just a tool? Can you teach without it if you had to or would it stress you out?
Can you live without your Interactive Whiteboard? I challenge you to shut it off for 2 weeks and see how it goes!