Learning and Looking to the Future
An experienced teacher embraces the ways in which technology is changing education.
Maggie Cary remembers what it was like to teach in the Dark Ages: “Back then, well-equipped schools had a computer lab and maybe a couple of classroom computers, but that was about it,” she says. That was 18 years ago, when Cary first started teaching. Even as recently as a few years ago, she could not see how computers might enhance the educational experience of the youngest students. Upon learning that first grade students were expected to have group lessons with laptops, “I just imagined all the broken computers and the classroom management headaches of it all,” she says. “Today, it amazes me how even young children can be taught to utilize the Internet, learning software, and all the amazing new technology out there.”
These days, the National Board Certified Teacher cannot imagine a school day without technology resources at her and her students’ fingertips. Whether addressing parents’ questions or corresponding with educators across the globe, Cary appreciates the way that the Internet helps extend learning well beyond the classroom. She says that her blog, ClassroomTalk.com, “allows me to be a member of a global learning community with teachers from all over the world. It’s fantastic; it allows me such a wealth of teaching experience to draw from.” During a recent social studies unit on Australia, an Aussie teacher sent her a native biscuit recipe. “It doesn’t get much better than that,” Cary says.
Taking on Teaching Changes
Introducing new technology in the classroom can thrust teachers into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory, where students are apt to know more. Cary chooses to see it as a learning experience. “You just have to roll with it,” she says. “Tap into their strengths by finding exciting ways to utilize all that is out there.” You might even want to turn it into an assignment, having students do “book reports” about useful websites and new technology. “By doing this, students facilitate their own learning as well as that of their peers,” she says.
Cary is enthusiastic about the ways that technology has changed teaching, but she is mindful of its limits. “Technology is not the complete answer, and we have to be wary about it taking over classroom instruction completely,” she says. Experience has also taught her to proceed with caution, as she has seen a fair number of hot new educational trends burn out in only a few years. Even so, it seems that Cary hopes this won’t be the case. Over the next several years, she says, “I’d like to continue to see teachers evolve into facilitators of learning using all the components of technology and resources available.”
Maggie Cary is certified in Secondary Education and holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Cary, who lives and teaches in Florida, has taught children from preschool through high school. Over the years she has individually answered a myriad of questions from parents concerning a wide range of issues. She started her blog as a way to share her knowledge and experience with parents of school-aged children.