I was very fortunate early on in my career to have an amazing administrator who taught me about the power of relationships in education. He had faith in me in a way that no one else in my career had previously and I was driven to live up to the confidence he had placed in me. He knew the names of nearly every student and would stop by the classroom in the afternoon just to see how you were doing. (He also couldn't spell or sit still to save his life...but that made him all that much more endearing.)
I've spent the last week at the 2015 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia. I've been to lots of large conferences, notably ASCD and NSTA, but they don't hold a candle to ISTE. To keep it brief, this conference is for educators to learn and share about how to use technology to enhance and transform both teaching and learning. It's certainly not a small task or challenge. Regardless of whether you're talking about a device, the newest app, or some spectacular website, they're all fundamentally about one thing: building better relationships.
Technology helps us connect with our students in a way that we couldn't before. Part of that is out of necessity. We have to meet them where they are...and they're on social media in large numbers. Technology helps us learn more about our students academic strengths and weaknesses, as well as their likes and dislikes. In doing so we have the potential to tailor our instruction, curriculum and assessment to meet their needs. Technology helps us facilitate relationship building with other young people and adults around the world.
There are some who claim that the technology we have today will make teachers obsolete. Perhaps it will make some teachers obsolete, but I'd argue that that's a good thing. Those are the teachers that need to be replaced. Technology will never replace a teacher who realizes that the fundamental roots of their profession are the relationships they build with students. If we don't remember our roots, we're likely to trip over them and fall flat on our face!
The folks I serve today in my job are teachers and there are a lot of them. This next year I'll work with 600+ teachers across the district. Now I have to think seriously about how I can build relationships with so many teachers whom I will see only for short periods of time...any ideas?