The implementation of technology in classrooms has become a regular topic in education. As a relatively active member of the EdTech community, I was not surprised to find that many 2015 education trend reports were heavily weighted with predictions for the increased prevalence of tech products and services in school communities. After discussing these trends with colleagues, I realized that many of them shared a somewhat wary outlook towards EdTech. It’s not that they were being inflexible about adapting to changes within the profession; it was more of a concern about trying to implement these trends in schools where their students don’t even come to school with food in their bellies, let alone have the resources to participate in “bring your own device” day. If these are the trends expected to give students the best chance at a successful future, then where does that leave the huge number of teachers and students who don’t have access to these resources?
I endeavoured to collaborate with a fellow educator who could relate to working in an environment with limited resources, yet who was also undaunted by the high EdTech expectations making their rounds through school communities. I began learning about Mrs. Ashley Colquhoun’s full-day kindergarten classroom, where Mrs. Colquhoun and her assistant teachers practice creativity, patience, dedication and high expectations tirelessly in their low-income community.
Mrs. Colquhoun puts careful consideration into her inquiry projects, ensuring that they contain enough interest to incite genuine curiosity, and enough of a challenge to help students stretch their thinking and achieve a sense of accomplishment when they complete a task. While showing me the colourful walls and enticing learning centres in the room, Mrs. Colquhoun spoke confidently about how she believes the lack of technology available for her students is far from being a disadvantage.
“During activities, students are constantly talking with each other,” she explained. “They ask questions, think critically, and work together to solve problems and create solutions. Maybe they could also do some of these things on a set of classroom tablets, but we simply don’t have access to those resources. The improvements that my students demonstrate are a real indicator of just how much they are thriving. Many of my students don’t get a chance to interact with kids their own age outside of school, and the majority of them are not involved in sports or other clubs. So why not utilize every moment of the rich learning that can happen when all of their little minds are together? Technology or not, I am determined to help my students have the same advantages and opportunities as everyone else. They deserve it.” I had to agree that I couldn’t imagine a future where determination, curiosity, creativity, and strong teamwork and problem solving skills wouldn’t be an asset.
Mrs. Colquhoun’s attitude and efforts served as an inspiring reminder that despite the availability of resources, a dedicated teacher is often the most important and irreplaceable education trend of all.