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Today, I reflect on the moment I was approached by an administrator to be a pilot teacher for a 1:1 iPad initiative in my high school. I found myself anxiously awaiting the shiny new iPads that would be rolled into my room.  And came they did.  Now what?  What do I do with iPads?  What do students do with iPads?  Is there an app for that?  How would this change my instruction?  How would I use technology to transform the classroom?  These were questions I asked myself.

Now, 7 years later, I go into schools where teachers are facing the same challenges and one of the overarching concerns voiced in such schools has been, “Will technology replace the teacher in the classroom?”   I don’t always have an answer for every concern, but in this case I can say with certainty, “No!  Technology will not replace the teacher.”  If anything, technology should make the teacher’s role more central rather than peripheral.  And if you’re wearing your Fitbit, no need to ever worry about getting in your steps for the day.  Sitting down in front of the class is no longer an option.  Trust me on this.  

What does a technology based classroom look like?   First of all, the teacher has to have all the tools in place for successful technology integration.  This does not equate to getting the old PowerPoint lecture ready to project in front of the room.  It may mean attending professional development in order to learn about the tools students can use to promote and extend their learning.  Yes, this is often on the teacher’s time.  Then the teacher will need a learning management system, a place to create and deliver content, monitor student participation, and assess student performance.  Did I say create?  Yes, today’s teacher needs to be more creative than ever before.  Tasks of a digital teacher may include making a video lesson for students to watch, transforming an old worksheet to make it digital in order to collect live analytics, thinking of a new way for students to do an old poster project, giving them choice and voice in their products, and, last but not least, lending an ear to student questions as they arise in this more differentiated, engaging environment.  

With access to live results from quizzes, teachers can now differentiate on the fly, and must be prepared for the reteaching moment or logical extension when students need more.  This could look like pulling one group of students to the side for a review while sending other students on to the next item on the agenda.  Where is the teacher during all of this?  Everywhere.  Available.  Monitoring.

Will technology replace teachers?  No I say.  Teachers are the leaders, guides, facilitators, and mentors.  I’m sorry, although technology offers us many tools,  it can’t replace the teacher that changes the lives of his or her students.

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