Confessions of an EdTech Teacher: If my son shouldn't have every toy in the toy store, why should I have every app in the Chrome store?

Originally posted on: Learn.Collaborate.Lead.

I have a confession to make. 

Last week when I was talking to my son about why he just couldn’t have every single toy he sees the moment he sees it, I had an epiphany.

I watched the pure joy on my son’s face as he moved through the doors of a toy store. He walked up and down the aisles. He was exhilarated at the possibility of having all these new toys in his bedroom to play with. Then, the very moment I told him he could only have one, his pure joy was replaced with unmistakable frustration. How could I not give him every single toy at once? It was so difficult for him to understand when he could see them all right in front of his face! People were talking about these toys, explaining how amazing they all were and why his play time will be so much better with them than without them. Why couldn't he have them all at once? He felt defeated.

I am just like my 5 year old son.

Replace the toy with some example of an app or a script or an extension or an Add-on and I am my 5 year old son. I want it all. I want it now. I’m excited for the possibilities. I’m frustrated that I don’t know how to use it yet. I’m jealous of those who do. I’m overcome with defeat.

I’ve been feeling this EdTech cycle of emotion for quite some time now. I’m extremely proud my my journey in the last 18 months. I remember sitting in my first EdTech camp, not even knowing what this thing called “Google Drive” is.  I was inspired that day.

I joined G+ to learn more. I loved asking my questions, collaborating with a professional learning network in various communities and even sharing my own knowledge that was growing by the day. Thanks to leaders like +Eric Sheninger, +Sylvia Duckworth, +Andrew Stillman, +George Couros+Scott Monahan and +Jim Jamieson, I felt comfortable diving in to learn as much as possible.

And then it started…

I would read someone’s great post about an app that we should try. I’d put it on my to-learn list and get to it as soon as I could. Then someone else would post about another fantastic app. Again, I’d get excited thinking about all the great applications of that app and how my students could really benefit from it. My to-learn list was growing far faster than I could cross items off. My excitement felt like it was wrapped in frustration. I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do.  I needed to know how to use and Incredibox and Screencastify and Paper53 and the 15 other apps on my list. Don’t get me started on how confused I felt once I joined Twitter! 

I felt excited. I felt behind. 
I felt inspired. I felt defeated. 

I knew I was doing good things. I knew I was sharing my knowledge with my students, my colleagues and my PLN. Yet, each time I heard about something new, I felt like a kid staring up at towering shelves, filled with endless amounts of toys that were unreachable.
This is a problem. My current way of thinking isn't helping me. If I'm always beating myself up for what I don't know, what message am I send to my students? I have to value what I do know and not punish myself for what I don't, yet strive to continue growing. I have to consciously try to remember that it isn’t a race. The point is to value the process and learn at my own pace.

Just like my son doesn’t need every new toy the minute he sees it, I don’t need every app the minute I learn about it. I never let my son open up more than one birthday present every few days. He has to have time to appreciate each toy and learn how to play with it before moving on to the next. Technology, in my practice, must be the viewed the same way. I have to slow down. I have to appreciate each part of my journey for what it is.

If I’m being honest (and as scary as it is, I’m trying to be honest) I don’t entirely believe that this epiphany will stick. I think I’ll continue to feel frustrated that I don’t immediately know how to use the newest EdTech discovery the moment it appears in my G+ stream. That’s just who I am. However, I think I will stop feeling a sense of defeat. I understand now that not knowing is just part of the journey. If I knew everything, there would be nothing to learn and what fun would that be?

I will continue to grow my to-learn list and tackle each item in its own time. I will enjoy each new “toy” and appreciate it for how it can help my practice and my students educational experience.

I want to learn. I need to collaborate. I strive to lead.

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