Earlier today I read an article published in the Washington Post by Diane Ravitch entitled "Ravitch on Teachers and Her Critics". For the most part I agree with her views on No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and in many other areas. However, I was very taken aback by this statement that she made referencing 21st Century Skills, "And, to the extent that it is about pushing more technology into the schools, it is pointless, as technology will never take the place of good teachers."
As an educational leader I feel compelled to address this statement as I am tasked with hiring, observing, mentoring, evaluating, and supporting teachers on a daily basis. I want all of my teachers to be good and I unequivocally agree that there is nothing more important and influential to the success of a student than a good teacher. This leads me to list some defining characteristics of a good teacher:
1. Sound classroom management skills.
2. Ability to actively engage all learners.
3. Firm understanding of best practices and effective
4. Addresses the needs of all learners by differentiating
5. Designs lessons that foster critical thinking skills and
cognitive growth through authentic-based practices.
6. Are supportive, caring, and passionate about what they do.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. As Ravitch downplays the significance of educational technology and its evolving role in today's landscape I see it as an essential resource utilized by good teachers on a daily basis. These good teachers combine the engaging and collaborative forces inherent in technology with sound pedagogical techniques in order to effectively integrate. The result is phenomenal lessons. Through risk-taking and a determination to provide an enriched learning experience that is meaningful, these good teachers are reaching students in ways never imagined. Students of these good teachers have now developed a love for learning and an excitement about coming to school. They see technology as an essential tool, not a means to an end.
No, technology will never replace good teachers. Good teachers will be replaced by great teachers that embrace this opportunity and understand that change is the only way to prepare our students for success in the 21st Century. Great teachers find ways to use technology when needed to challenge, support, and enhance the learning needs of all students. It might not be on a daily basis, but the great teacher acknowledges its potential impact on and power for learning. Technology and the need for change are not going away, and the great teacher understands this. Thank you to all the great teachers, administrators, parents, and educational stakeholders that are actively accepting this challenge. Do not settle for being good. Continue to strive towards greatness as the student will greatly benefit.