Sage Advice: Relating to High Tech

Your students are growing up in a world immersed in high tech. You (most likely) didn’t. How do you relate?

Your students are growing up in a world immersed in high tech. You (most likely) didn’t. How do you relate?

Moving forward with technology is paramount, so I keep up with my students by allowing them to email homework. I also give out my IM screen name so students can ask for help while they are doing their homework. Finally, I even let students take pretests and complete some assignments using texting abbreviations.

Cheri Strother

Social studies teacher
Littleton High School
Littleton, Colorado

The easiest way to keep up with and relate to students at the same time is to ask them for help! They love to teach, too, and respect you more for treating them as intelligent co-beings.

Debbie Soltis

Science teacher
Chugiak High School
Chugiak, Alaska

I use the old technology to demonstrate the evolution of the new technology, such as showing my computer punch cards and the four-function HP calculator (HP-51) from my undergrad classes to show how computers and technology have evolved.

Kathy Welch-Martin

Mathematics teacher
Wainwright Middle School
Lafayette, Indiana

Jump in yourself. Get a MySpace or Facebook page. Don't use it to communicate with students; rather, see what they are posting and learn to use it yourself with your own friends and family. You start to understand how they view people and the world.

Jim Cornett

Computer science teacher
Rosemore Middle School
Columbus, Ohio

First of all, subscribe to Edutopia. Next, be willing to admit your ignorance of a topic. Finally, be willing to have them show you how.

Pat Fuller

K-8 school counselor
Illini Bluffs Elementary
Glasford, Illinois

I never stop learning. In fact, my summer vacation consists of attending three conferences and several other weeklong training events. By the end of this summer, I'll be an Intel Master Teacher and have represented my district at the National Education Computing Conference (NECC). By learning and immersing myself in a high tech world, I relate to my students, personally and professionally. My teaching is enhanced, my students are excited to learn, and if they forget their homework assignment they can check my MySpace page!

Melynda Ross

Chemistry/world history teacher
Moss Point High School
Moss Point, Mississippi

I've always had a passion for technology, so keeping up with it hasn't been too much of a problem for me. By recognizing that my students learn best with audio and visual stimulation, I not only meet the needs of today's students but also receive an education myself.

Nicole Zumpano

Fourth-grade teacher
May Community Academy
Chicago, Illinois

Set up Student Tech Time, when students create mini-lessons for teacher and classmates to demonstrate their technological savvy, with an ending that always includes some student product, demonstrating understanding.

Judi Harris

Staff developer
Wissahickon Middle School
Ambler, Pennsylvania

I readily acknowledge my lack of ability and comfort with, and distaste for, so much technology, and I feign more un-ableness than necessary. That way, students can shine in this area and do extra work while teasing me. This banter makes class more pleasant and shows that no one knows everything, and that giving and getting help crosses all kinds of lines. I believe too much technology comes at a sociability price and often gives one a false sense of knowledge.

Lydia Walter

Speech and drama teacher
Hammond Middle School
Alexandria, Virginia

There are two worlds of technology my students inhabit. One I know or keep learning -- the technology of the Internet, the reference tools, the educational chats and blogs. Although it has been difficult at times for me to change or rev my cognitive gears, I have done so and am a comfortable visitor. The world they live in that is still like a foreign country is their social use of technology: their spaces and places -- even their phones befuddle. I just gawk and marvel at that world. And I think I am comfortable with this dual citizenship, as are they.

Dr. Kathleen Cooter

University of Memphis
Memphis, Tennessee

As in the case of the many generation gaps of the past, the best way to relate is to listen. If we truly listen, we can then communicate. Real communication leads to understanding. Once we begin to understand each other, we can then relate to each other.

Themistocles Sparangis

Chief technology director, educational technology
Information Technology Division, Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles, California
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technology, high tech, understanding high tech, learning from your kids
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Jul 2007: School to Career
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Sage Advice