Michelle Bettis is an Instructional Coach at Ooltewah High School & Central High School and has been a Tech Goes Home trainer since 2017. She shares her experience with Tech Goes Home below.
When I first heard about the Tech Goes Home organization, I thought the concept was almost too good to be true! Now two years later, I am even more amazed by the generosity of the donors to support this impactful work. Technology immerses every aspect of our life. We are often so busy in our daily tasks that most students, parents, and teachers do not realize how technology dependent we are. While many families in our area have access to the internet, the reality is there are many families who do not have access to a device or to an affordable internet service provider.
I consider Tech Goes Home to be a win-win-win situation. For students, TGH instructors provide useful, lifelong technology skills that will enhance their learning through graduation and beyond. With the pressure to teach specific standards, many teachers simply do not have time to deeply explore tech learning needs students may have. There’s rarely time to practice using helpful resources that can support students’ specific instructional needs. Simply having time to review shortcuts and alternative ways of accessing online information is beneficial for students and parents. More importantly, sessions are a great opportunity to review digital citizenship, the importance of our digital footprint, and online safety.
For parents, the sessions provide resources that meet parents needs at any level. Sessions are a great opportunity to engage parents in how to best access school online resources like PowerSchool, the HCS app, HCS website, and the new district learning management system Canvas. The model for the sessions allows parents and their child to learn together. During sessions, I often observe a child proudly teaching their parent how they use Google tools to complete assignments in their classes. With the 2018-19 middle school 1:1 initiative, and now the high schools will be 1:1 for the 2019-2020 school year, there’s a greater urgency to educate parents on resources, safety, and general technology skills.
For educators, Tech Goes Home offers a platform to interact with families in a meaningful way. In general, teachers communicate with parents by phone, email, parent conferences, or during athletic events. Tech Goes Home gives teachers a chance to connect with families through technology. The best class for the instructor is the last session and not for the reason you might think. During the last session, each family presents the Google Slides they created together on their chosen topic. I have learned where the best dog parks are, the best places to camp, how to refinish furniture, care for guinea pigs, little known facts about Peyton Manning, and much more! With three children of my own, I realize the importance of internet safety, digital citizenship, and monitoring screen time.
As an educator, I feel Tech Goes Home has given me the platform to share resources to keep children safe as they navigate the digital world. The technology phenomenon will not stop evolving and we must continue to learn and grow with the ever-changing digital world! We all want students to be independent device users, but we have to equip students and their families with the skills they need!