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Overwhelmed by Technology?

by Christine Jenkins

A few weeks ago I registered for a Technology in the Classroom workshop.  I was very excited about learning something new.  Unfortunately, by the end of the half day event, I had only accomplished an elevation in blood pressure and an overwhelming feeling that I was on a rudderless ship doing a slow circle around a drain.  Before the workshop, I thought I was pretty up to date with my smart board lessons, document camera and blogs.  My smarty pants were a little droopy after I realized that I was only just pecking away at the tip of the iceberg.  Throughout the workshop, I couldn’t keep up with the conversation and my laptop kept crashing.  I was crashing.

I’ve always been excited about new teaching strategies and it is now very apparent that I need to be more techno-savvy to be an effective teacher in 2012.  More importantly, my students need to be techno-savvy to survive in their world.  When I do use technology in the classroom, my students are engaged and productive.  I have to keep giving myself little pep talks to keep my confidence high. I must give myself the gift of time to experiment and permission to accept the defeat of unsuccessful attempts. Asking others for help and adopting a fearless attitude would help me become more competent in using technology effectively.

Even though my 20th century ego is a little shattered when my six year old students teach me something new about magictreehouse.com, (who knew there were souvenirs to collect after every mission?) I need to stay inspired.  My students are patiently waiting for me. I guess I’ve kept them waiting long enough.

Are you overwhelmed or savvy?  Ask for help or share your success stories .


Christine Jenkins is a grade one teacher in Simcoe County. Over the past 24 years, she has worked as a Reading Recovery™ Teacher Leader, a literacy resource teacher, a literacy coach, and has taught grades one through 8. Chris  is passionate about teaching children to read, especially children at risk, and believes that success in the early grades is of the utmost importance. Since 2001, she has concentrated her own professional development in literacy instruction.She holds a Master of Education.


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  • http://www.howtostyleme.com/ Diana Gascon

    We thought technology would make our lives easier, faster, simpler. Yet,
    we have no more “free” or leisurely time today than we did decades ago.For some of us the lines between work and home have
    become blurred.

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  • http://www.about.me/sylviaduckworth Sylvia

    Hi Christine,
    It is very easy to feel overwhelmed by technology, there is just SO much out there! But your computer crashing during PD certainly does not help matters. Have you considered getting a MacBook or other reliable Apple device? (I’m assuming that you are on a PC which crash all the time) I switched to a Mac a couple of years ago and it has made a huge difference in my efforts to learn more about technology since it rarely crashed and just takes seconds to reboot.

  • http://adunsiger.com Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca)

    Christine, I’m sorry to hear that you feel this way! I think this is a pretty normal feeling to have after a technology inservice. I often find that these inservices are either too easy, or too overwhelming. Often there’s such a range of skills and abilities, that it’s hard to target everyone.

    This year, I attended ECOO (an Educational Computing Conference in Ontario), and one of the keynote speakers said something that resonated with me: “People get the most out of learning from someone that is just ahead of them in skills.” It’s why we need a tiered approach to these kinds of inservices. If the instructor is too far ahead of you, then you leave feeling overwhelmed, and if the instructor is at the same level of you, then you leave feeling disappointed about the lack of new ideas.

    At this ECOO Conference, we had a one day Minds on Media Inservice, where there were different work stations set-up around the room on a variety of topics, and people could freely float between these work stations throughout the day. The conversations evolved based on the needs and interests of those there at the time. If you weren’t getting what you wanted from the discussion, then you could leave, and you could always return at a later time. This type of format helped ensure that people did not get overwhelmed but could direct their own professional development. If the opportunity presents itself to try this kind of professional development, I would highly recommend it.


  • http://www.pixed.us/ Devon Campbell

    My suggestion would be to pick one thing you want to do and tackle that. It’s hard to look at the wide variety of tech being utilized in the classroom without being overwhelmed. Another problem is that, when you see another teacher’s success with technology, you don’t always see their struggle achieving that success. Pick one cool thing you want to do with technology in your classroom and do that. Once you’ve mastered it, pick another!

    • Janet Lee

      Hi Devon!

      The part about missing the struggle really resonates with me. It is easy to feel stress when you see how well everyone else seems to be doing with new technologies. It is a never-ending series of advancements! Thanks for the advice about taking one thing at a time.


  • http://corriganeducation.ca Kathleen

    Chris, I wish I could throw a buoy or life saver to you but I get that sinking feeling too. I love technology (as a tool) and feel bereft if I leave the house without my IPad and practically have a mini anxiety attack if I forget my IPhone but at the same time I worry about making this all work in a classroom. I think you hit on a couple of great points that can help make it all work- 1) let the students lead the way when necessary, (aren’t we facilitators rather than the fount of all wisdom?) and 2) pick one or two things to get comfortable with at a time. Every lesson need not be a techno extravaganza! As I noted above technology is a tool, a powerful tool, but it is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Our students can and should learn many ways. So let them have a curious teacher, eager and excited to explore a tool with them, not a stressed or drowning teacher trying to be perfect. Let them use technology to open their minds and their worlds but let them access text in many ways, not just one. There is joy in getting a computer “souvenir,” but there is also joy in reading a magic treehouse book for the wonderful story. We don’t know what kind of world our children will grow up to live in but we do know that the technology of today will be antiquated. So we need thinkers and do-ers and problem solvers and risk takers and that we can learn together.

  • Judith Harms

    Given the fact that obesity and inactivity are growing childhood problems in Canada and the USA, I think that less time spent with technology and more time spent being inspired by the natural world would be more visionary. Pollution is also a growing problem for our very young.