New Teachers Coming to Transform Our Schools?

I just returned from spending a few days listening and learning as I led a district through a comprehensive technology assessment. As part of the assessment, I facilitated several focus groups with teachers and administrators. In one of the focus groups two student teachers sat in with their supervising teachers. The teachers, in general, were frustrated with the lack of professional development available to them, as well as the lack of access to technology and timely tech support.

These veteran HS teachers were upset and talked passionately about how their students were being short changed because there wasn’t much technology available to them.

One pointed to the student teachers and said, “These young folks coming from college have been using technology as part of their learning all through their education. Our kids are going to be behind the eight ball when they get to college.”

Both student teachers smiled and nodded agreement.

I asked these unbelievably young looking student teachers how they used technology in their learning and they both had the same response…they used a Blackboard like system to access their assignments and course resources. They also used the system to submit homework and assignments. Occasionally; but rarely, they used the system to participate in a topic-based discussion forum.

I pressed a little further… did they have any courses that showed them how to use technology to teach their subject matter? Neither of them had had any course or training on using the technology with students. In fact, both were pretty much schooled in large lecture halls.

I have two daughters in college and this pretty much confirmed what they have been relaying to me about how they are being taught.

And therein lies the problem. Even the youngest teachers coming to our classrooms are unprepared to use technology in their teaching! They come straight out of the mold that produced the last generation of teachers.

In their defense, chances are they are less anxious about technology than their veteran counterparts. They may have more experience with Facebook and/or MySpace. They may IM with their eyes closed, and as these two student teachers mentioned; they may have some college experience with BlackBoard type classroom management tools.

That said, these student teachers (both from different colleges BTW), were not prepared to use technology in the process of teaching and learning. I have a feeling that they are not unique.

If this is so, then it is we who are left to do the expensive and time consuming “on the job” training…

Are these student teachers, taught in mostly traditional K-12 classrooms and then graduated to college lecture halls, part of the new wave of tech savvy educators that we hope will transform our schools?

Will they, and the many thousands of new teachers around the country, be any more receptive to employing new teaching pedagogies and teaching styles? Teaching styles that they may have never experienced as they moved through their k-16 education as students?

Are we holding out false hopes?



27 thoughts on “New Teachers Coming to Transform Our Schools?

  1. As a future teacher, I really hope that we are not coming out unprepared to integrate technology into our subject matter. The incorporation of technology into the classroom is becoming an important part of education, and can be invaluable. Today’s students are going to be encountering technology more and more, and as teachers, I would hope that we would be able to support our students in the usage.

    Personally, I have not had a ton of experience with the use of technology in my education, but am finding that several classes are trying to change that. I have been using a Blackboard system for a few years, and have recently been working with discussion forums and blogs. The more I work with these different systems, the more I understand what a benefit they can be in the classroom.

    I know that I have had experience with technology, especially social technology such as Facebook, MySpace, and Instant Messengers. Although I am comfortable with this technology, there is still an anxiety associated with the use of technology in the educational setting. I do, however, hope that before I am teaching full time, I will have the confidence and understanding of how to incorporate technology into my classroom successfully.

    Knowing that others are concerned about incoming teachers being inexperienced with technology encourages me to change that fear. I hope that others are as concerned about this, and that students preparing to be teachers realize the opportunities available to them beyond the walls of a lecture hall. I cannot say that I will be a teacher to come into a school in the future and transform it, but I do hope that I can be of assistance to the process. I would love to see new teachers successfully incorporating technology into their classrooms, and students benefiting from the experiences.

  2. As a young, college student pursuing a career in education, I truly hope future teachers like myself are not inadequate in their uses of techonologies. Social networking such as Facebook and Myspace is obvsiously incredibly popular with my generation, but I do not feel this is the main use we get out of technology. I feel I have picked up many practical uses that could be applied to a teaching outside of my actual classroom. It is true that I have not received formal training in the uses of technology in the classroom previously, but I am currently starting as Computers in Education is a requirement for anyone who is entering the education field at my college. I believe that many tools such as blogs, blackboard, and podcasts are used by many students even though they did not take a course on these areas. Just because these skills were not obtained through formal training does not mean they are not valuable. On the opposing side though, most colleges require that education majors take an educational technology class. Because student learn on their own and technology classes are required in most colleges, I feel the future teachers will be adequately prepared to integrate technology in their classroom.

  3. I definately agree that our future teachers are not getting as much experience with educational technology as they need. As for me, a future teacher, I have only had one class(computers in education) that prepares me for using technology in the classroom, and I have been in college for 3 years now!
    I guess as a student you don’t realize how unprepared you are until someone brings it to your attention or you are put on the spot to come up with something. We talk about how technological our society is becoming but how are we preparing our teachers? By having them take 1 class? I don’t think this is enough. If we have to teach children how to use technology shouldn’t we as teachers be as familiar with it as we can? Knowing about Facebook and MySpace are just not going to do the job.

  4. I agree. That, in many ways, has been my argument throughout the divisive technology debates.

    People who know what they’re talking about need to not just teach how to use technology, but how to teach well with it.

    PowerPoints are usually very poor. As a student teacher, I’ve seen what my peers do with PowerPoints. I think it’s time we were taught how to make them worthwhile.

  5. Shannon, Brittany, and Kristen;
    Whoever is teaching 205 is doing what I wish many higher ed professors would do…getting you involved in the conversation by using the Read Write Web.

    Think about how you might use a tool like this with your class when you begin to teach.


  6. I thought I was very tech savvy before entering my ED205 class, but I realize now that the technology I was using was only the tip of the iceberg in what can be utilized for teaching students. I think that the educational system has not properly equipped us to teach using these aspects of technology. These lessons should be taught throughout the entire life of our education (which I believe is the goal for this next generation of students) rather than trying to be crammed into one semester. With all of the amazing things available on the web for communication and learning the future looks bright for technology in education.

  7. I also thought i knew almost everything technology based involved with teaching. But i was wrong and i was only really using a little bit of what is really available. And while i don’t know everything now i hope my education 205 class can teach me most of it. But the problem with technology is it is always changing and improving. So while we may know everything about technology related to computers our last year in college there could be a completely new program the next year that we need to learn. Like Jim205 said “these lessons should be taught throughout the entire life of our education rather than trying to be crammed into one semester”.

  8. This article makes me think a lot. In 2001, when I composed the Audio-visual English course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) classroom for a university in China, I was considered as not taking the teaching work seriously. In language labs, I used feature English movies as teaching materials. Isn’t it the most efficient way to build a real language context in the classrooms? Students can learn good English and cultural background from the audio-visual information applied by the movies.

    I believe media and technology is the best teaching tool to today’s students who grow up with Youtube and Myspace and are called the e-generation. I never give up this idea. Now I am a graduate student majoring in Educational Technology in the States. This is why I left my homeland, gave up a decent job in the university there.

  9. As a future teacher I often feel like I will be unprepared for the technology that I will have to use when teaching. I am currently taking a computer class, and I was shocked at all the resources available to me on the internet that I was never taught about. I wish that I was required to take more computer classes so that I would be more adequately prepared to teach my students. With many of the classes that I have taken, my professors have mentioned that I will be expected to use certain forms of technology, yet no professors take the time to instruct us. It is incredibly frustrating to realize that I am not being fully prepared for my future job. Even though I have been exposed to Blackboard, my use of it has been minimal, and that minimal knowledge would not help me in my career.

  10. I, like many of those commenting to this, am a college student emphasizing in education. I have a problem with the idea that we are going to be causing expensive on the job training. Isn’t training in the classrooms how we learn to teach in the first place? Yes, i do think it would be beneficial for all future educators to learn technology more thoroughly but at the same time teaching really seems to be on of those professions where you really do learn on the go the first few years. Im not disregarding the fact that we do need to be better educated on how best to use technology in the classroom, but I do not think this should be considered a hindrance or thought of as only an expensive en devour on any level it is to the benefit of everyone involved.

  11. This article was really interesting. I had never really thought that I, who am regularly helping my parents and sister with technology, would be coming into my future classroom unprepared to teach using technology. But reading this article has made me think a little deeper about this and I can see the truth in this. I have learned many things in my Computers in Education class already that I had no idea were available and have thought about some concepts that I thought were cut and dry, and they no longer are to me now that we have discussed them. I agree with this article and it has motivated me to learn as much as I can about ed tech.

  12. This article makes a valid point. As a future educator I feel as if technology in education is very important. Colleges and Universities need to step up and challenge students to learn technology so they can adequately teach it to the younger generations. The only mixed reaction I have to this article is the comment “These young folks coming from college have been using technology as part of their learning all through their education. Our kids are going to be behind the eight ball when they get to college.” Future generations will learn from the past and no matter how poor the technology in education programs are at the college level the students will keep up in this environment. Todays generation was able to learn from a generation that struggled with technology. I had teachers that could barely use the internet teach me about the internet.
    Many of the people going into the teacher profession know everything about the simple workings of technology. Not using the more advanced parts of tech today will not put future students behind it will merely create a generation that did not advance as quickly as they should have. It is our job to give every student the ability to get as far as possible there for it is our job to educate ourselves as much as possible. Tech is very important in education and colleges of education need to step up and put more focus on it so that each student will have the opportunity for the best possible education.

  13. I found this article very interesting as well. As a student majoring in the education field, I find myself wondering the very same questions. I went to elementary and high school with older teaching methods, of overhead projects as the most modern piece of equipment in some of the rooms. Now that I am in college, I find myself in situations where I am required to use technology that I am not necessarily familiar with. I often have to teach myself how to use these advances, which is fine, but may not be the most effective way to teach emerging teachers! There are hundreds of ways to use technology to benefit the classroom, and I think that in order to best use this to our advantage, every up and coming teacher should be required to take some sort of technology in the classroom course. This training doesn’t have to be separate from the rest of school, nor would it require loads of money. We should look at technology like we do any other course that we feel should be learned in order to benefit our future classrooms.

  14. To me it seems odd that new teachers are coming out of college at basically the same place technologically speaking that older teachers were when they finished college. I have always figured that being in college would teach me how to use all the different ways that I could use technology in the classroom. But since I have started a Ed Technology class this semester, I have come to realize how much you can actually use technology in the classroom. I think that there should be a class or that professors should let us know about how to use technology in the classroom. This knowledge would be really beneficial to us as well as our future students because we are always looking for new and interesting and fun ways to teach students new information.

  15. I also agreed that, as a future teacher I hope I am not inadequate at being able to integrate technology into my future classroom. I think that the generation that I am a part of which is using a lot more technology in college such as the blackboard system makes us more likely to not inadequate. I think in fact that facebook, myspace, and instant messaging being apart of our lives growing up makes us ahead of other generations before us because we are more familiar these. Having the experience and familiarity with using a computer for various things both educationally related and not makes it possible to better teach our future students. When a person is has a background in something and is comfortable with what they are doing they are more likely to better teach that specific thing. Therefore, I think that there is hope. All of the kinks may not be worked out yet but I think there are steps being taken in the right direction.

  16. I also agreed that, as a future teacher I hope I am not inadequate at being able to integrate technology into my future classroom. I think that the generation that I am a part of which is using a lot more technology in college such as the blackboard system makes us more likely to not inadequate. I think in fact that facebook, myspace, and instant messaging being apart of our lives growing up makes us ahead of other generations before us because we are more familiar these. Having the experience and familiarity with using a computer for various things both educationally related and not makes it possible to better teach our future students. When a person is has a background in something and is comfortable with what they are doing they are more likely to better teach that specific thing. Therefore, I think that there is hope. All of the kinks may not be worked out yet but I think there are steps being taken in the right direction.

  17. I am not a teacher however I am currently getting my Masters of Science in Educational Technology where many of my core courses are related to incorporating technology into the k-12 classroom. I am by no means a digital native, I am a career changer, and have been lucky that what I do now will greatly assist my efforts when I become a teacher … or so I thought. I work with faculty on the University level to assist them with incorporating technology into their classrooms. Our focus is on Blackboard and using multimedia in the classroom. As I began this program I thought my background in faculty development would give me a leg up, but I quickly found out that the technology we are working with at the University is not the same as what is being used in the k-12 classroom. This realization came to me during my first online class a few semesters ago … when it was brought to my attention that the SmartBoard was used heavily in the k-12 arena. Of course I had heard of this technology, but had never used it. So already I felt behind the eight ball. Luckily my program is designed in such a way that I will be exposed to this technology and be provided with opportunities to use these technologies in a practical classroom setting. Without the hands on experiences, or knowledge of best practices for classroom use, how I can prepare myself to teach?

    My goal is to eventually be placed in the k-12 environment to teach technology classes to students and be the tech support person on staff. I am currently enrolled in a course titled Designing Standards Based Technology curriculum. In the short time since this course began I am already learning so many news ways to incorporate technology in the classroom, this week we are discussing RSS and blogging, which is how I came to find this blog filled with the same concerns I have about being prepared to work with technology in the classroom.

  18. I can agree with everything said. It seems like some people knew they did not know everything about technology and other thought they knew enough until taking a class or two. I, like many, knew enough that I thought I would be okay teaching in a future classroom because I am familiar with all the methods that I was taught with. However, I am having a rude awakening! The methods have changed. I still need help getting my Ipod together, but I thought I would be okay when it came to technology that had to do with education. Little did I know that my Ipod could be a method of teaching! I am learning all about podcasts, blogs, and many other avenues. I just opened a myspace account just to catch up a little and practice blogging!
    As far as being prepared enough, I feel like classes like ED205 that many of us are taking will help, but if there are no other required classes in this area for people going into education, we may have to take it upon ourselves to learn more about this if we want to have an advantage.

  19. I think that incoming teachers today have enough knowledge to incorporate technology into their classrooms. However, I think that how to use technology effectively is the knowledge that is lacking. Courses like “computers in ed” are doing a great job of supplying that knowledge. But I must fight for the math department because, as a mathematics major, I’ve been exposed to many math tech computer programs and tools, such as Geometer’s Sketchpad, MAPLE, and various levels of graphing calculators. All of these are extremely useful for explaining many complex concepts of mathematics. Each of my classes have stressed the uses of these, which I plan to carry on to my teaching.

  20. I completely agree with Pete Reilly. Up to this point in time all of my teachers in the area of computers and technology have been at least as old as my parents, if not my grandparents and felt that there were a few vital things to know about computers but that was it. These people taught me how to use techonology in my day to day life but have they supplied me with anything that I can apply in a classroom? I mean, sure its great to be able to have students reach you via email but what about all the great resources in technology that was left untapped?
    In just 3 years I hope to be unleashed on a classroom all my own full of highschool students and if I went into that classroom with merely the knowledge I have now regarding technology there is no way I would be able to use it to the fullest potential. Colleges need to really emphasize ‘new’ technology and teach the students how to use it, but also teach them how to use it IN the classroom. How can it be applied to the students? At this day in age I feel that colleges need to require more than one ‘computer’ class for the future educators.

  21. I think future educators will have enough experience using technology in college so that once they are in the field they can incorporate it into their lesson plans. People just don’t know what’s out there until someone shows it to them and I think that it is up to, not just our college professors but also the future educators, to look on their creative side and discover some ways of using technology.
    I must admit, coming to college, I didn’t know a great deal about computers. I just knew the basic stuff but now I am learning new stuff everyday. With the things that I am learning on my own and the things I am being taught in my technology classes, I am sure I’ll be prepared to integrate technology into the classroom.

  22. This is a very interesting article. Like many who have replied I am in college to prepare to be a teacher. I am a bit older than most of my peers and went to school in the 80’s without much in the way of technology. I find it very important that I am able to come up with creative way to use technology.

    One concern I have is that I will learn great new ways to apply technology and in a few years it will be replaced something better and more efficient. The new technological ability that new teacher like myself will bring (hopefully) will become obsolete and an ever increasing rate of speed. I hope that above all, I learn to teach myself to be ahead of the game, so to speak.

  23. I am currently in college and will become a teacher. I always thought I did okay with technology, I know how to use a computer and do anything I need to. I have realized lately that just because I know how to meet my computer needs doesn’t mean that I can effectively make use of technology in a classroom environment. I think it is very important for our future teachers to be prepared to use technology constantly in the classroom as students will need instruction on how to use it properly. This doesn’t mean using powerpoint to teach the students, I’m talking about online discussion, educational blog posts and online research. Technology is a huge part of life and there needs to be some focus on it in schools.

  24. Hi Justin, spanglio, PJ, Cate, Trevor, Delia, Cim, gerdesc, Brianna, SchultzJ, Kuyperb, Melanie, Katelyn, Rong, and Jim…

    I’m so glad that you found this post. Usually, I try to write posts based on my own experience; and my experience with how teachers are being prepared by our institutions of higher learning is minimal. (Although I have 2 daughters in college right now).
    Most of you have concurred that although you are comfortable with technology and that you use it to manage your coursework; your preparation for using technology in teaching and learning in the classroom is “weak”.

    spanglio makes an interesting point…technology is changing so fast that once you get familiar with it, it will be obsolete. He mentions having to work to keep himself ahead of the curve. Great insight.

    Justin realizes, in his comment, that Powerpoints are a different form of the same old lecture and that teachers need to find ways to use tech tools more creatively. Yes to that.

    Trevor, a math student, mentions that he his teachers have been using Goemeters’s Sketchpad and graphing calculators…great. That’s what I’m talking about.

    Cim relates the experience of finding out that some of what is being taught in her classes is not what is going on in k-12 classrooms, Smartboards for example, and wonders how to keep up with best practices. This is definitely and issue.

    gerdesc feels that because he is comfortable with technology, when he gets to a classroom he will be much more likely to employ technology in his teaching, even if he is not being shown how to do incorporate it today. I believe that this might be so. At least I hope so.

    Katelyn has an issue with my characterizing “on the job training and professional development” as a “burden”. I understand that so much of what we learn is “on the job”; but any teacher in a classroom today will tell you, it gets harder and harder to find the time for this training once you start teaching. It is also difficult to leave your classroom to be trained. Not doubt, as you say Katelyn, we will always need to be trained on the job.

    Rong, you’ve shown some amazing courage to come to this country and leave a comfortable job behind. The spirit that lead you here is the spirit that will lead you to great success.

    So, I want to thank you all for reading and commenting on my blog. I also want to thank you all for considering spending your lives as teachers. It is a wonderful and rewarding profession.

    I want to make one point before signing off for today…

    the two most important things you can do to transform education:

    1. change the pedagogy from primarily lecture and teacher centered…
    “teaching is talking, learning is listening, and knowledge is in textbooks”
    to student centered classrooms where kids are DOING, constructing, collaborating, engaging, communicating, building…etc.

    How does technology fit into that? It is the perfect tool for accomplishing those things. There are lot’s of tools. You’ll find them. The pedagogy, letting go of the reins, constructing lessons and activities where they are not listening but doing; that’s the challenge.

    2. uncover the individual gifts of you students and encourage them to come out.

    Your classes are filled with wonderful and unique individuals…you’ll get busy and start to see them as amorphous “classes”; do your best to refocus on them as people. They will feel this connection and respond to you. You’ll be more successful in teaching and we will be more successful as world that desperately needs “empowered and creative” young people.

    My best to you all,


  25. pete, i just want to thank you for engaging my ED 205 students in a conversation. one of my goals in doing this (beyond having them using the technologies) is to have my students exposed to other voices in the field. not everyone who writes a blog takes the time to respond back to my students, so really appreciate that you were able to do this. thanks.

  26. Greetings!

    I must say that I enjoyed reading through many of the posts. We have student teachers on our campus, several a year, and most of them come into their internships overly confident with regard to technology. I have found that young teachers are not different than more experienced teachers in their use of technology; however, I WOULD say that younger teachers are less inhibited using tech in the classroom. Both beginning and experienced teachers must be trained in the effective use of technology for instruction. Personal experience using an Xbox, smartphone or even computer only goes so far. Instruction is a totally different matter. Take this from a tech coord of 18 years and one who helps those through their internship tech components.

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