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ICT - Embrace the fear

Using a new IT tool in class will result in sweaty palms. So?

Using a new IT tool in class will result in sweaty palms. So?

When was the last time you did "flying by the seat of your pants" teaching, where you try something a little different or deviate from your plan?

They always seem to be the most memorable lessons, providing that buzz that makes the job worthwhile, and every teacher I've met has at least one of these tales.

But talking about technology in the classroom brings a whole different response. For every teacher who sees it as a way to keep their work fresh, there are a dozen more who develop sweaty palms. Never mind the X-factor, these teachers have the F, or Fear Factor.

There may be hitches when we use technology in class, but by modelling a healthy approach to challenges and problem-solving, we empower our students to try new ideas themselves. I've often talked about the need for a plan B - and C, D, E, F as well.

It can be a daunting prospect to try using a new tool for the first time when you aren't sure how it will work. It might mean involving the ICT co- ordinator or technicians so that a free download is available on the machines you will be using.

It's crucial to check that any online tool you have accessed at home will actually work in school. Check out your schoollocal authority policies and procedures. Secondary schools usually have more control over filtering than primary schools, which depend more on shared county filters.

There's nothing more isolating than feeling as if you are the only person trying something out, so try working with other teachers - it will give you momentum and a shared context for new projects. Establishing a personal network using tools such as Twitter or TES forums means you can draw on the experiences of others for mutual support.

And, of course, you can involve the children when trying something new - it means you are all learning together and creates an atmosphere in class where it's OK to not know everything, to make mistakes, to learn from them, to listen to other people's ideas and to find ways of solving problems collaboratively.

It's scary to admit you don't know everything when you are the teacher, but modelling problem-solving, discussion and collaboration can be a powerful learning experience for those in your class. Find out about the tool or resource you are planning to use in class. There are many guides from the developers, but it is also worth checking out the "how to" video guides developed by other users, posted on YouTube.

And finally, try out one new thing at a time - unless you are incredibly brave. And remember that lasting success comes from evolution of practice.

WHAT ELSE?

Recommended by Jan Webb

- ICT VideoHelp: www.ictvideohelp.co.uk

- apps4class: apps4class.wikispaces.com

- UnderTenMinutes: www.undertenminutes.com

What else?

In a video from Teachers TV, pupils explore virtual worlds and teachers comment on the educational benefits of programmes such as Second Life.

In the forums

Teachers discuss their experience with open source databases.

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