That “Age-Thing”…

“Cathy, Linda, Sharon, Connie, Brenda…”

I feel like I’m home when names like these show up on our Saturday workshop rosters.
And you find these names less and less often among the faculty pages on school district websites.
You see, attending these workshops says our guests are giving up a Saturday morning to spend it with us learning about technology.
A Saturday morning during the school year…
A Saturday free of grading, lesson plans, and “all things school” to spend it doing “more things school”…
They belong to my generation…and they are still excited and willing to learn new ways to teach and to make their teaching relevant for their students.

Shannon and I just returned from the 2009 NECC Conference in Washington, DC.  One session we sat in on was “Teaching Math Using SMART Technology”.
The session was excellent in that it was presented as a math lesson on plotting coordinates on a quadratic plane.
The demonstration was led by Michelle Meehan, a young 7th grade math teacher from Virginia with teachers pulled from the audience who had volunteered to be her students.
It was fun to watch someone else present and to see the excitement that was generated by a Notebook 10 lesson and the “How did you do that?” questions that followed.
A facilitator walked around and answered the questions, and several times she made comments that began, “If a 50+ person like me can do it, so can you!”

Anytime we have participants who are reluctant or afraid to use the technology, and use their age as an excuse, we, also, try to reassure them that one of their teachers is older than they are,
(and I always am.)
Often these people are not “old” at all; just afraid.

We recently presented at a school where the curriculum director had spent some time doing research on the connection between the age of teachers and their willingness to use technology in the classroom.
I was very interested in hearing the results of her research and was quick to inquire.

She found that the connection had nothing to do with age,
but had everything to do with the willingness of the teacher to step out of their comfort zone, (a.k.a. “The Box”) and to try to do whatever was necessary to get their kids to learn.

I was not surprised.Mom's Facebook Profile Picture

This summer we were fortunate to have a vistor to one of our sessions. My mother attended a beginning SMARTBoard workshop, and she was totally engaged by what she saw. Her comment to me was that, “This is so fascinating! If I were a young teacher, I would be at every one of these classes!”

Again, I was not surprised.

My mom just turned 80.
She was one of the first her age to use email.
She has been IM’ing ever since it was introduced and she “Skypes” and is on Facebook.

Thanks, Mom, for passing those genes down to Shannon and me…

reflections SMARTBoard workshops

One comment

  1. diane says:

    I’m from your generation and totally agree that it’s attitude more than age which determines willingness to learn new ideas. My mom regards laptops, iPhones, etc. as strange and magical devices. Her technology comfort zone extends no farther than TVs and telephones. If my dad were still alive, though, he’d be right in the thick of the digital revolution. I’m proud and thankful that I’ve inherited his inquisitive mind.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *