I spent last weekend on a cabin trip in the mountains with a few family members, including my four-year-old nephew. We planned so many activities (kayaking! board games! frisbee!), but once he got his hands on dad’s iPad, I could barely get a word out of him (let alone entice him with a game of Go Fish). As an aunt, I understand how technology can discourage effective interactions—and sometimes I just want to throw the iPad out the window! But I also know that we have just as much chance of curbing kids’ fascinations with hand-held devices as we do of getting the average adult to turn off their cell phone. Given this reality, I think we need to work with, rather than against, technology by taking advantage of children’s natural curiosity for all things electronic.
Here’s one idea for using technology for good when working with children (and by good, of course I mean interacting. This is the Teachstone blog, after all!):
The example above describes how something as basic as a digital camera holds so much potential for interactions that extend “beyond the screen.”
Where do you stand on the technology in the classroom? Use the comments section to share your tips on using educational technology “for good” with kids.
The time has come for hard conversations.
That’s the feedback we have been receiving from educators across the country. There are plenty of tough conversations educators are trained, taught, or feel equipped to handle with children and families - gently bringing up a developmental concern, facilitating a disagreement between students, or explaining what happened with the classroom goldfish are all part of a day in the life. But in the last year, since the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, educators are increasingly asking for help in communicating more comfortably with young children about diversity and difference.
I was supposed to be an architect, instead I was a teacher of young children; it felt like my calling.
When I started my coursework, they tasked me with visiting multiple classrooms. It overwhelmed me when in some classrooms, children were crying, teachers were frustrated, and no one seemed to enjoy the day. I thought I had made a mistake. Thankfully, I had a professor who inspired me to continue. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the behaviors I observed in both children and teachers, the professor charged me to uncover the root of those behaviors.
And so, my journey to support social-emotional development began.
This past year of hybrid and virtual learning due to the pandemic highlighted the gaps in learning and the inequities that we already knew existed. It is apparent, now more than ever, that there needs to be a narrow focus on bridging the divides (e.g., digital) that exist and meeting students where they are in order to promote growth and put less emphasis on standardized testing. This would allow teachers to concentrate on curriculum with greater impact, differentiate their instruction, and utilize effective strategies that they know make a difference for children’s outcomes.