Helping Teachers Make a Difference in the Lives of Their Students

Being a New Teacher in the Digital Era – Guest Post by Brad Currie

When I began sharing my tips for new teachers back in 2010, one of the first educators who began encouraging me with his retweets and likes was Brad Currie. It meant a lot to me that an established educational blogger was appreciating what I was sharing online.

Later, he shared his insights on my podcast, The Amazing Teacher Podcast, and again was very encouraging and inspiring.

Recently, I asked him to write a guest post for the SITC blog, and in true Brad Currie fashion, he agreed.

Brad is definitely someone every new teacher, and even veteran teachers, need to include in their PLN.

I want to thank Brad for all he is doing for new teachers and for SITC.

Here is his guest post:

Being a New Teacher in the Digital Era by Brad Currie

Picture it, a school in Anytown, USA, that contains two incredibly different classroom environments with new teachers at the helm.

The first classroom has students sitting in rows and reading from a text book. The teacher talks at students, relies heavily on worksheets, and expects all students to complete the same assignments at all times.

The second classroom has students collaborating in groups, curating content on their devices, and receiving timely feedback from their “guide on the side.”

How could this be? Simply put, it comes down to risk-taking. The digital world offers so much for school stakeholders and for many it’s a big risk to take advantage of what it has to offer.

Being a new teacher in the digital era can be very overwhelming and often leads to a “just play it safe” mentality.

What many fail to realize is that this sort of mindset is not what’s best for kids. It will ultimately lead students to dislike a teacher and result in poor evaluations. This in turn creates a negative school culture that could ultimately take years to recover from.

There are so many ways to think outside of the box and use innovative tools in ways once thought unimaginable. brad-currie-guest-post

New teachers now have the ability to do some many things with the click of the mouse or tap on the screen. For example:

  • Tell their classroom story utilizing social media.
  • Provide timely information about student progress using various web applications.
  • Leverage the power of online tools to give students voice in their learning experiences.
  • Access real time assessment data that can help impact instruction

Below you will find five free tools that will transform the way new teachers can promote the success of students in the digital era.

Twitter ~ Creating and maintaining a classroom Twitter handle can do wonders for sharing out all the great learning experiences that place on a daily basis. Parents can feel good knowing that at any moment they can take out their mobile device, tap on the Twitter icon, and see in real time what their child is doing. The power of one tweet can move a dinner conversation forward and help support what is going on in the classroom setting.

ClassDojo ~ Setting up a ClassDojo account can help parents stay in touch with their child’s behavior and instructional goals. This free tool opens up communication channels between school and home using any device. It can be used for student or a whole class.

Remind ~ Send out important classroom reminders and timely information in a safe manner through text, email, or push notification. It’s incredibly easy to set up an account and create a classroom to communicate with parents and students. Remind is very safe due to the fact that it’s only one way communication. Stakeholders can not message the teacher back or find out the sender’s real phone number.

TodaysMeet  ~ GIve voice to those students who are quiet or slow to raise their hand with this tremendous back channelling tool. Create classrooms and hold virtual discussions before, during, and after school on the current topic of study. Teachers have the option of having students register or opening up a quick discussion forum.

Plickers ~ Flip how technology is typically used with this paper-based tool. Sign up for an account, set up a class, create questions, print out the cards, take out your mobile device, and scan the room for answers. The real time data can help impact instruction and ultimately promote the success of students.

As you can see there are so many digital tools that help make  the learning environment engaging and fun for students. Combined with pedagogically sound teaching strategies, technology can do wonders from a physical and virtual standpoint. Utilizing these tools will do wonders in strengthening a classroom’s culture and provide a new twist to old school methods.

Brad Currie is the author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities. He is one of the founding partners of Evolving Educators LLC. Brad is an ASCD Emerging Leader, Bammy Award Finalist, ClassDojo Thought Leader and Google Certified Educator. He currently serves as a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Middle School Vice Principal for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. Learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter @bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.

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