Technology in Education

21st Century Classroom: What did I get myself into?

Over the summer, my boring, 1960’s style classroom was magically transformed into a 21st century learning space. Goodbye: desks, bookshelves and blackboards; hello: rolly chairs, whiteboard tables, green screen wall, chromebooks, ipads and fancy computer tv/projector I honestly have no idea how to use (although I did figure out how to turn it on with the help of a colleague).

It’s what any modern, cutting edge teacher could ever hope for, right?

Well, I thought so, but now I’m feeling a little panicky about the whole thing. In my old classroom I knew the rules, was confident in my lesson delivery and felt calm, cool and collected. The first week in my new classroom was a complete shock to my system.

Suddenly, I wasn’t sure of the rules. Should the kids be able to roll around on the chairs? Can they doodle on the whiteboard tables if they clean them off before the end of class? If it’s a technology classroom, why can’t they take pictures of notes instead of write them? Could the tv be on during independent work time?  If they are sitting in groups, then could they complete all their work collaboratively?

The students were FULL of questions, and I was completely unprepared for firm answers. Let’s just say the word ‘maybe’ and phrase ‘we’ll see’ became my go to responses. 

Also, I wasn’t as confident in my lesson delivery. If I have all these cool features in my classroom, shouldn’t I try to use them in (almost) every activity? My ‘old’ resources suddenly felt dated and boring – how could I spice them up with the new features of my classroom? I spend the majority of my week reworking old resources so that the activities used the new technological features of my classroom.

Finally, I don’t think I’ve ever been so physically tired after a week of work. Usually, I sit down at some point during the class, but in my 21st century classroom I don’t have a desk. And since my students were often moving around the room to stations or working collaboratively, I was going from group to group or station to station mentoring and conferencing. At this pace, my skinny jeans will be big by October.

While I was prepared for having to learn to use some new technology, I wasn’t prepared for how drastically my 21st century classroom would change my day-to-day teaching style and classroom culture.

Suddenly, my class is noisy: kids moving around, talking and using tech devices. And I’m all over the place – no more teaching the lesson then moving to independent work time. I’m mentoring, then conferencing, then troubleshooting media, then learning from kids how to use media, then drawing examples on a whiteboard table. It’s freaking exhausting.

Am I ready for this drastic change?

Is it going to make a difference in student engagement?

What about improved student achievement in my subject area?

I suppose only time will tell. At this early stage, I do know one thing – the kids seem to be excited and therefore engaged, but is that just the September honeymoon phase?

My goals for the first month are pretty simple:

  1. Figure out the tv. More than how to turn it on.
  2. Think about how I’m going to use the tv to engage students and/or support lessons. (It looks really expensive, so I feel huge pressure to use it!!!)
  3. Work with students to define ‘rules’ about the whiteboard tables.
  4. Figure out the balance between tech engagement and curriculum delivery.
  5. Breathe. Meditate between classes (very 21st century:)

Stay tuned for future posts about my adventures in the 21st century classroom. If you have any suggestions or tips for me, please comment below!




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