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Don’t fear – embrace: Using technology in personal and professional lives

by The We Inspire Futures Team

Although most principals and school leaders know technology can be helpful for learning, they still feel their schools are lagging behind when it comes to integrating it in their academic communities. To guide these professionals in the right direction, Dean Shareski, community manager of the Canadian Discovery Educator Network and Huffington Post blogger, offered his insight on using technology as a resource and modelling its use for teachers.

Why are some teachers hesitant to use technology as classroom

One issue principals might encounter when trying to bring technology to their schools is that their faculty is a little hesitant to try it out. Shareski said one of the most important things for leaders to understand when it comes to this issue is that most teachers received training that taught them that technology is not essential in the classroom. In fact, if these educators received any type of technology training in college, these tools were most likely presented as “add-ons,” rather than necessary items. Therefore, without a background that has taught them how and when to use technology, Shareski said it is only normal for educators to shy away from it. ”I don’t blame our teachers. They just haven’t had the experience,” he said.

How can principals and school leaders help?

To address this issue, Shareski said principals can encourage their faculty to pursue professional development for teachers, which might include taking a few technology classes or earning a
master’s degree. However, professional development can often take up a lot of teachers’ time. Therefore, if this is simply not possible, there are other small things school leaders can do to help their faculty feel more comfortable with technology. For example, Shareski said principals should strive to model the use of technology in their personal and professional lives. This can be as simple as sending teachers a friend request on Facebook, or sitting down with faculty to explain how they use Twitter as a learning tool.

Shareski is hesitant to tell principals exactly which tools they should use and how they should use them. Instead, he advises school leaders to demonstrate the behaviours they think are important. Personally, Shareski uses everything from Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and his blog as both professional and personal learning tools. ”I use each of those spaces a little differently,” Shareski said. “My blog, for example, is purely a place to reflect and dig pretty deeply into ideas. Twitter is a playground and a mix of professional and personal. Flickr is largely personal and YouTube, more of a mix. I don’t think others have to use them the same way. That’s just my choice. The key is I’m intentional in the way I use them and understand how those technologies work.”


Dean Shareksi is the community manager of the Canadian Discovery Education Network (DEN) and a Huffington Post blogger with a true passion for integrating technology into the classroom. Prior to joining DEN, Shareski taught grades 1-8 and served as a digital learning consultant for the Prairie South School Division in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. In the past 20 years, he has travelled across Canada and the U.S. to speak at workshops and seminars that help educators effectively use digital media in their classrooms.

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