Saturday, August 30, 2014

Crawl, Walk, and then Run

When I was in the classroom teaching math, I had a fellow math teacher tell me her trick for teaching coordinate graphing: babies learn to crawl before they can climb. X comes before Y so when given a coordinate point, you crawl sideways with the first part of the coordinate and then climb up or down with the second part of the coordinate. I think about this as I have spent the past week setting up iPad devices with schools working with teachers of extremely varied levels of abilities. I am also involved in the Edublog Teacher Challenge which is introducing me to a broader repertoire of blogging skills and ideas. I realize that while I want to run, I personally need to go back and practice my crawling a little bit more in some areas and begin doing a marathon in others. It also makes me embrace where teachers are in their journey and encourages me to move with them along their way.

This phase is characterized by an "if I touch it, it might break" or "I was shown this way to access....and what do you mean it's changed?!" mentality. Teachers who are at the crawling phase don't need to be told that the world is whirling around them. This just causes more anxiety. Instead, it is up to us as coaches to swaddle them and to provide encouragement. We need to start small and introduce one thing at a time. Then, expand the things they know. It's like parents who have the baby crawl 5 feet and then 8 feet and then across the room. We must build confidence and take it slowly. At the same time, don't belittle them. Pointing out flaws or using phrases like "Did you really...?" and "Oh; let me do it for you." don't instill confidence. Success breeds confidence and we must be there every inch of the way.

Some tools for those who see themselves in the crawling phase include:
  • Reading blogs
  • Trying a different browser
  • Learning to use cloud storage

This phase is characterized by a yearning to do more but just not sure what to do or how to get there. A desire is starting to build to enter this crazy tech world. After they learn to crawl, we need to move to walking. Parents do this one step at a time. We must let teachers take one step at a time in this phase. It is easy to revert back to the safety of crawling but we must encourage and guide. Ever see a new walker and their parents? The parents are holding the baby's hands. We might have to hold some hands until teachers are ready to walk on their own. Show them one additional feature at a time of a piece of software or an alternate app that does essentially the same thing as what they are used to. As they are shown, use the I do-we do-you do method of guided instruction. Again, instilling confidence as we go and expanding the field of the comfort and the protection zone as they move along the spectrum is what they need; not constant handholding and remarks that make crawling so much more appealing.

Some tools for those who see themselves in the walking phase include:
  • Following Twitter and reading posts while making the transition to doing their own posts
  • Starting a blog-just the essentials and probably for themselves and a few people at first
  • Sharing documents from cloud storage 

This phase of technology prowess is characterized by teacher who try things and then tell you about them! After walking, it is instinct to see how fast you can go. I encourage anyone reading this to take off and see how fast you can go. Try something new and share it with a colleague. Be the trend-setter in your building and share what you find with others. As coaches, we must encourage these teachers to continue to grow and to experiment. We must make the environment safe for them to experiment too. Be there for support but also as an advocate with administration. After all, as technology coaches, we are hires to promote technology in education so we must advocate for advancement.

Some tools for those who see themselves in the running phase include:
  • Participating in/Leading a Twitter chat
  • Maintaining an advanced blog with widgets and embedded objects
  • Collaborating with others on projects using cloud technology
  • Curating content using a tool like Flipboard or Feedly.

I Want To Run
The question begs to be asked, "What do you want to do: crawl, walk, or run?" The really important thing is that it doesn't matter where you are but that you get moving. For my teachers, I am there for every aspect from sitting there encouraging them crawl, to holding their hands and then holding out mine while they walk to me, and even cheering them on as they run (even if they get ahead of me-my ego's not that big!).  The really funny part is that as I write this, I can see the SAMR model being applied not only to student use of technology but in teacher growth as well.

Where am I?
Well, I'm off and running when it comes to classroom integration but still walking when it comes to blogging. I want to run and know that I will one day. For now, with the help of the Edublog Teacher Challenge, building a Twitter PLN, and just continuing to develop my own skills, I am enjoying a brisk walk through life with technology in education.


  1. Hi Bill

    Great post and been on my list to read since you shared it on twitter! I love how you have broken the journey on helping teachers to use technology into crawl, walk and run.

    Too often we overwhelm by introducing aspects that they aren't ready for. Your distinction makes me reflect on what I might include for each phase. Twitter chats have concerned me lately because the last two I've participated in have been incredibly hard to keep up with and I'm a very experienced Twitter user.

    I've scheduled your post to tweet out tomorrow. Hopefully others will leave comments about what they feel should be included in each stage.

    Sue Waters
    Support Manager
    Edublogs | CampusPress

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Sue. Thanks for tweeting it out and for helping me get up to running here on A Quick Byte!

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