Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Teacher Panel Reflection

                Hi everyone!  I just wanted to take a minute and reflect on my learning from this week’s Tech Teacher’s Panel we had in class.  I really like the panel idea because we can learn from others outside of our small class and really see other’s perspectives, in this case on technology in the classroom/schools.  For this panel we had 4 individuals to learn from;  Natalie, Jen, Greg, and Susan.  Two of them teach in court schools for the County office, one of them teaches at Point Loma High, and one of them is the Director of online learning for the County Office of Ed.  While I initially thought the panel would be more specific to tools used in the classroom and how they enhance learning, it took a different turn.  The discussion ended up focusing mainly on access to technology and the limits that are in place.  We talked a little bit about policy and how working with Tech Resource teachers is essential to getting what you need technology-wise in the classroom.  We also addressed the inequity in schools and why there is a need for Juvenile Court schools.  One of the pieces of this discussion that resonated with me the most was the injustice that is done to certain students in our school system that then puts them into the Juvenile court school system.  For the elementary level students, some schools actively seek out ways to send kids to the court schools, usually because they don’t want their test scores to bring their school’s AYP down.  This shows the structural inequalities in our schools and how they are built to serve a certain population of students.  This was tied into tech by showing that these students need equal opportunities so that they can become more successful and technology is a big key to that.  The idea of technology as an “equalizer” was discussed a lot, and I agree.  Although technology isn’t going to fix all of the problems in our educational system, it is a step in the right direction because it allows teachers to differentiate instruction more effectively and is motivating for the students.
          Another thing that we discussed was this motivation that technology provides students.  One of the presenters spoke of how she did an activity in her class one year in which she used technology in group projects where she had the students read a text and then analyze it in groups.  This, she said, did not work because the students were not on task and complained that it was too hard.  The next year, she gave the same assignment, but rather than working directly side-by-side with their group members, they sat in their normal seats and used chat windows to communicate with their group members.  They read the article on their own in Google Docs, the classroom was quiet for concentration, and they were able to “take apart” the text with each other through online conversations.  All of these conversations could be monitored by the teacher at her desk so she knew if they were off-task.  Then, the groups met face-to-face to discuss it further.  One of my questions to the panel was the concern of translating this online persona and tech-heavy interaction into face-to-face interaction (since life requires you to interact face-to-face with others, such as in interviews).  Most of the panel agreed that there had to be both.  Technology gets students more comfortable by allowing them to participate in a less stressful means of communication, so that the face-to-face will not be so difficult for them.  I thought that this was a good “compromise” between the two concepts and methods of teaching.  

Overall I feel like this panel was an enriching experience and I was grateful that these teachers took the time to come and speak with us and answer our questions.


  1. Nice reflection. I really liked Jen spoke about that assignment with using the online chat. I also liked how Natalie mentioned that the one year she went completely paperless and electronic was the one year that scores went down because there was no interaction amongst the students and/or teacher. It shows that teachers are essential to education and to the learning process. I think what Natalie saw in her class was similar to when you said:

    "Although technology isn’t going to fix all of the problems in our educational system, it is a step in the right direction because it allows teachers to differentiate instruction more effectively and is motivating for the students."

    I think you hit the nail on the head.
    Great post! can't believe this class is almost over!.

  2. I know! I'm going to miss you guys! Thanks for reading my post and commenting, I appreciate it (you were my one pageview today, yay!) :) And thank you for bringing up what Natalie said about her paperless class and how there is a need for teacher/student meaningful interaction. It is definitely something that should be said about the importance of teachers. I think that gets forgotten in this push for online classes.

  3. Great post! It's obvious you've really connected with this class. I'm looking forward to seeing your digital reflection:)