Allan Miller

VIA20

VT, USA

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Challenge

Many days I feel that my pedagogical growth and that of the teachers I support is embodied by the analogy of squirrels chasing shiny objects. This is especially true in my role as a Technology Integration specialist where every day we are inundated with anecdotes, articles and offers for the latest, greatest piece of software, hardware or strategy for app-smashing. My career is a string of examples of throwing myself into a new idea, or product or approach without really knowing the inner why that should be at the core of decision-making. Why are we going 1-1? Why are we teaching coding? Why use project based learning? Why flip the classroom? Sometimes my decisions, sometimes admin or district - so many options and so little core guidance to make those decisions. Remote learning (or educational triage as we call it) this spring highlighted that nearly every school in the world is all over the book in terms of having our K-8 students prepared to be digital learners and citizens. Despite vastly different contexts there were similar struggles with equity and access for schools I work with in Alaska, Uzbekistan and Vermont. We know how to teach reading, assess a student’s growth and provide effective interventions when problems develop. These sequences are also fairly universal and culturally agnostic - effective reading instruction in UZB is remarkably similar to the US. I believe learning to use technology tools is equally universal, but we haven’t even identified what conceptual understandings, skills and aptitudes kids need to develop from diapers to college. This leaves teachers to guess at what they should be doing in their classrooms for technology, administrators guessing as to what tools their schools should invest in, and students all over the map in terms of what they can or can’t do.

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