As the leaves become a beautiful display of an autumn array of colors, my mind often turns to reflection and gratitude. As the leaves change colors, I can’t help feeling grateful for the many things in my life that have changed who I am. Specifically, technological advances have challenged me and caused me to grow professionally.
My first experience with computers was in 5th grade in the 1980s. I remember this vividly.
My grandmother had recently passed away, leaving our family with a small inheritance. My parents decided that using these funds to purchase a computer would help our family be on the cutting edge of technology. Looking back, that computer was an expensive dinosaur. Still, we loved it and were grateful we had a computer because not many families could afford it.
*I’m grateful that devices are smaller and less expensive. In the primary grades, having tablets that help students learn with age appreciation apps has changed the learning for these young learners.
My next real computer experience was in 7th grade. All students were required to take a computer programming class. It took me almost the entire semester to code a rabbit. However, it wasn’t quite right- I could still see that rabbit staring at me with crazy eyes.
I’m grateful there is more technology available now than just coding. For example, our school incorporated coding in the upper elementary school, using shared experiences with documents and other online activities.
I waited to take typing until my senior year of high school because of my previous experience in coding class. However, by the end of the year, I managed to type 10wpm (on a good day). At least my hand placement was correct, and it helped me finish papers on that computer dinosaur with a program called Word Perfect (the predecessor of Microsoft word).
I’m grateful that typing programs are available for younger students to develop these lifelong skills and user-friendly text-to-speech apps.
In college, I had my first experience using a mouse and saving my term papers to a diskette.
These diskettes would eventually fail, so you would have to back up all your files on another disk just in case.
*I’m grateful that saving to the cloud is an option. It is so wonderful to know that my documents are safe. I appreciate adopted technology standards that help reinforce these concepts earlier, even for elementary students.
My first real job after college was as a paraprofessional in a school library and computer lab. I loved this job because I, deep down, had a love for technology. Eventually, returning to school to receive a Masters in Educational Technology and an emphasis on Online Instruction.
I’m grateful for web-based professional development programs that increase my skills and confidence in using technology as an educator.
While my experiences were primarily with various hardware and very little software, however, there are many programs that my elementary students love. This is truly what makes technology valuable in an educational setting. Technology has forever changed my life; for this, I’m grateful!
Written from the Educators Perspective: Teresa Marchant