7 Back to School Tech Tips for Teachers
As summer reaches its peak, and fall gears up to make its arrival, students, parents, teachers, and administrators are all preparing for the beginning of a new academic year. So many gains were made last year, and they are eager to build upon that success. The education system has changed a lot since I was a teacher, as the proliferation of edtech has created endless teaching and learning opportunities. Because of this, teachers must stay abreast of new happenings in the field of edtech, as new competitors are supplanting the apps and tools that were considered “cutting edge” a few months ago.
So how do educators stay on their tech “A” games to begin the new school year? Not to worry, we have you covered. In this piece, we will discuss back to school tech tips that will help you get off to a running start and sustain that momentum until summer break comes around again.
- Take an inventory of all of your tech devices. Many schools allow teachers to check out devices for their classrooms. You oversee the devices that are checked out to you, so make sure you keep a spreadsheet of the device types and their serial numbers. Some schools even have 1 to 1 programs, where schools give each student a tech device that they can use inside of and outside of the classroom. In that case, you may be charged with distributing the devices and keeping a spreadsheet of the devices serial numbers.
- Make sure you have enough storage. When it comes to storing tech devices in the classroom, you will need two types of storage: one for device storage and one for student access. Device-charging carts are excellent for laptops and tablets but are not appropriate for other tech devices. You can use low-tech solutions like see-through plastic shoe boxes for storing calculators and student cellphones during exams or during an instructional activity when their use would not be appropriate.
- Plan your tech routine. Developing classroom tech routines will make you more efficient, save you time, and keep students safe. Without consistent routines, chaos would inevitably ensue. When creating your tech routines, think deeply about how you use tech in the classroom, and instances when a learning experience or transition needs structure. Next, develop rules and routines to govern those instances.
- Create a lesson on digital citizenship. For students to stay safe and help to keep others safe in this tech-infused world, they need to know how to be a good digital citizen. To help your students learn how to be good digital citizens, develop a lesson that teaches them the following skills: internet safety, privacy and security, relationships and communication, digital reputation, self-image and identity, information literacy, and copyright laws.
- Make sure you have your school communication app set up. You are going to need a way to communicate with your parents, colleagues and when appropriate, students. Instead of sending individual texts and emails, you can use a school communication app to send a mass message to everyone at once. There are tons of apps that do this; you need to find the one that works best for you.
- Make sure that your social media accounts are professional. As a teacher, you have a life outside of the school, and you are free to live it on your terms for the most part. Short of breaking the law or specific ethical codes, you should be free to do as you please correct? No, you are not free to do as you please. Nowhere is this more apparent than your use of social media. I will be the first to admit that occasionally I post a slightly or grossly inappropriate meme. Imagine if a teacher did this. You may think its no big deal, but what is done in the darkness of the web usually comes to light and at the wrong time. You don’t want the photo of you in a risqué bikini to fall into the hands of your 7th-grade students, do you? So, do yourself a favor and make sure that your social media is professional.
- Make friends with the IT department. Murphy’s Law tells us that anything can and will go wrong, and at the worst possible time. Regarding tech, who are you going to call? No, not the Ghostbusters. You are going to call the school IT team. You need to make friends with them, so your job can get bumped up to the top of the queue. Which teacher do you think they will be more eager to help, the friendly one, the aloof one, or the flat-out meanie?
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