Staying Current in Education

Different ways to Stay Up to Date with Technology

How do we stay current with technology trends in Special Education?

Every time something new is created, someone outdoes it with in weeks. Technology is constantly evolving, and forever changing. As teachers, we are expected to continue to use technology frequently in the classroom, as a necessary tool- not just a bonus. As teachers, we are expected to attend conferences when possible. The education that is provided for us is necessary for teachers to continue to thrive. Of course, there are the conferences that are given by the school about a particular subject, but there are others which need approval from administration. To attend a conference to gain knowledge about technology could be difficult in my school. I work with students with special needs. Many of the conferences recommended are studies and proven ways to work with students with special needs; primarily autism. I could, however, most likely attend conferences and workshops on the different devices that students with autism could use to communicate.

Ways to Communicate...

One great communication device that some students with autism use to is the iPad. Students are able to download an app, and push icons to state their wants & needs. There are devices that are as simple as a can be, and others that are as elaborate as iPads. A lot of students at The Center for Discovery use iPads daily to communicate. The Speech department does occasionally have different informative trainings all that coincide with technology and communication.

How do you find a great mentor?

It is easy to find technology mentors in my school. In fact, I know exactly who to go to when I have a computer question. A colleague of mine received her Masters in Instructional Technology through NYIT, and she is only a few steps away. She has proven to be a mastermind, and a great mentor for me when I am scratching my head, staring at the computer screen. She has answered my questions that I have been embarrassed to ask! It would be a great idea for my colleagues and I to meet on a monthly basis, and share different lessons which use the support of technology. Lessons that contain technology aren't a primary focus of The Center for Discovery's curriculum, and therefore aren't something teachers use regularly. It would be a great benefit for teachers to meet on a monthly basis or whenever possible, to discuss what tools they're using in the classroom, and share different ideas. Many of the classrooms have iPads which are used frequently by the students on leisure time. I don't know many teachers that use the iPads regularly for academic purposes. This is something that should definitely be discussed among teachers. I have many apps that I have downloaded that encourage and promote learning. The app store has an infinite amount of apps all dedicated to education. I am going to attempt to create an informal "meet" once a month with my colleagues to discuss how they are using iPads in the classroom for academic purposes. I know that there are a lot of teachers that could use assistance with the iPad in general. I plan on informing everyone of how comfortable and familiar I am with the iPad, and will begin to search apps that are user friendly, and allow students to learn with fun, engaging activities.

Sharing Ideas!

Unfortunately, I can see a few of my colleagues not having time for a formal meeting. If that is the case, that would be the perfect opportunity for a google doc. This is something we can share with each other, and continue to pass it on to other teachers, not just the ones on our campus. In order for me to become a "mentor" in technology to my colleagues, I would definitely need a little bit more experience with technology! I am quite proficient with different apple products, such as the iPhone and iPad, and am definitely gaining more and more knowledge with my iMac daily. However we have PC's in school, which require frequent fixes. I often have to call for help when the PC needs a reboot. I need to familiarize myself with a PC more in order for me to feel comfortable in calling myself a "mentor". Because I am rather familiar with the iPad, I will allow myself [time] to educate other teachers on the basics of the iPad. The "training" can consist of an informal overview on how to operate the iPad. How to search for apps in the app store. How to troubleshoot when the iPad is having difficulties. I am confident in knowing the basics of the iPad, and plan on sharing that with my colleagues. I am hoping I will gain the confidence once I complete my Masters of Science, in Instructional Technology, to become a mentor with PC's. Until then, I will continue to have discussions and occasional meetings with my fellow coworkers, and will share ideas with my coworkers on how we can incorporate technology in the classroom.