I'm a technology teacher in an elementary school. I have 11 sections of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. I'm enjoying the technology but there is something about teaching in a computer lab.
I don't like teaching in a computer lab.
Why? I'm not sure I can pin my finger on it yet. Here's somethings that I think might be reasons:
Computers aren't seen as educational by the students.
I get the feeling that students, especially elementary students only have experience with computers as game machines. They are experts at navigating all kinds of games and learning what they need to do to advance in the games. I'm doing my best to turn the computers in design machines through the activities we do. They don't have this experience. They get easily flustered when something doesn't go their way and they don't know how to get around the issue.
The computer lab isn't a classroom.
The lab is different. It doesn't look like a classroom. The computers are in rows and around the walls. It's not what they are used to in their typical classroom and I'm not their normal teacher. They don't get to sit in groups or have a familiar desk. They can't move around because the desktop computers are stationary.
Digital expectations are different than regular expectations.
I don't teach in the traditional sense. It's never me standing in front of the class and leading them through a lesson. I haven't even done small group learning (labs aren't designed for this).
They need to log in, get to our website, read short announcements, and then watch a short instructional video. Then it's them creating something. Students are not used to being responsible for the learning. There are many students who wait for me to come to their computer and then ask what to do. I don't tell them. They all know how to open multiple tabs, how to reply a video, and how click through things. It's a mindset shift when they walk into the computer lab.
Temptations are everywhere.
Okay, not everywhere. They are all on the computer screen. It takes just a few seconds to open a tab, type in Ninjago, and start playing a game. It's just so easy to be off task.
I've never done this before.
I'm a middle school teacher who, for the first time, is working with elementary kids. It's also my first year teaching in a computer lab. It's also my first time just teaching technology. Usually, the technology is woven into other aspects. In many ways, I'm simply a first year teacher. It's slightly maddening to back at square one. It's also maddening that middle school techniques don't always translate to elementary. I'm learning though.
So, what now?
Should technology class be outside of a computer lab? Should technology class even exist? Should a technology teacher simply be assisting the classroom teachers with integrating technology? Should technology class really be more of a maker space?
So many questions to wrestle with. What are you thoughts?