“There Will Always Be an Overhead.”

Marcy Hannula — a fantastic teacher and friend who has challenged my practice for the better part of a decade — was cleaning out her professional library the other day when she stumbled across a chapter in a book on computers in the classroom.

The graphic below caught her eye because she knew it would rile me up.  See if you can figure out why it drives me completely crazy:

(click to enlarge)

Overhead Projector

Have you figured out what it is inside the text that rubs me the wrong way?

It’s not the suggestion that overhead projectors would be around for “many generations to come” or that overheads have always been “a much loved tool” of teachers.  It’s not even the suggestion that overheads “have undergone a metamorphosis” as teachers use tools like PowerPoint to “make their transparencies more effective.”

It’s the tacit suggestion that the primary job of classroom teachers is to communicate information to the kids in their classrooms.

What frightens me the most is that while we may have pushed our overhead projectors aside, we are STILL hell-bent on finding new digital tools that can make it easier to deliver information to the kids in our classrooms.  Teaching — which ISN’T synonymous with learning — still stands at the forefront of the work that we do in our schools each day.  We still control what our students study.  We still control the questions that are asked and the ideas that are shared in our classrooms.  And we still control the steps that students take and the pace that those steps are taken through our “courses of study.”

Isn’t it time that we retire “content delivery” as an instructional priority?

In an era where instant access to ideas and opportunities is nothing more than an internet connection away, shouldn’t we be working to create learning spaces that encourage students to discover essential truths — about themselves and about the world around them?  And if discovery really is more important than delivery, shouldn’t we be investing in technologies that allow teachers and students to challenge the existing structures of schools instead of using our purchases to reinforce the status quo?

Worth thinking about, right?

__________________

Helping Students be Comfortable with NOT Knowing [ACTIVITY]

Blaming and Shaming Teachers for Low Level #edtech Practices

Note to Principals:  STOP Spending Money on Technology

 

2 comments

  1. Melanie

    This, “It’s the tacit suggestion that the primary job of classroom teachers is to communicate information to the kids in their classrooms”, makes me think.

    WHAT IF we started our school year with changing this mindset…from day 1. Administrators could deliver the opening back to school meetings with the staff in different ways. Modeling less “sit and get”. Modeling more inquiry. Learning from each other. Allowing for growth in areas that inspire and encourage a growth mindset.

    How are teachers encouraged to take risks? To use tools in different ways? It has to start now. Our leaders- teachers, admin, supt- MUST model. Break the mold-Change the trend of how tech tools are used or how content is delivered. The overhead projector is not the enemy.

    Thanks for the thought provoking read.

    • Bill Ferriter

      Melanie wrote:

      Our leaders- teachers, admin, supt- MUST model. Break the mold-Change the trend of how tech tools are used or how content is delivered.

      —————–

      I was thinking about this during our staff development yesterday, Melanie, where we were talking about student agency. We read an article that made the strong case that agency starts when students get some control over the who, what, where, when, why and how of their learning. I’m not sure how many of those choices I’ve ever gotten to make as a teacher in PD sessions — and that’s a disaster.

      Teachers create learning spaces that are a reflection of their own learning experiences. Leaders need to remember that when planning PD.

      Rock right on,
      Bill