I have been lucky. I was on a computer at a young age, playing Math Blaster or Oregon Trail until my eyelids grew heavy and I had to crawl into bed. This is probably like today’s student playing Fortnight until the sun comes up. I don’t remember using technology in school but think about how powerful my learning experiences would have been with simulations and the ability to create.

Today’s students have the opportunity to collaborate and make global connections within the classroom; they can try to solve problems and share BIG ideas. I used to be hesitant about using tools that I thought were a better pedagogical choice because I thought I needed to know and understand how to use the tool before teaching students how to use it. Then I realized that I am in this profession for all of our students—not just myself—and that it does not always have to be about the technology. If I held onto my own fears, the students would suffer.

I’ve spent time reflecting on why educators need to stop giving into our own fears and realized that some of us just don’t know where to start. Here are some sound tips for getting over your fears to help engage and empower students.

#1: We do not need to know the answer.
Teachers often feel we need to know the answers to our student’s questions, but I have seen the benefits to admitting to students that I do not know everything and need to seek answers to not only my own questions but also the ones they ask. Model for students how to look up answers to questions. Show them how to use key words, Boolean operators, quotes, or search strategies.

We started using a Google Home in our classroom to learn how to talk to assistive devices since that is their future. These skills will help students as they delve into the research process and encourage them to be curious about their world.

About the Author:

Rayna Freedman is a fifth-grade teacher at the Jordan/Jackson Elementary School in Mansfield, Mass. She has taught grades 3-5 and is an ITS. She is president elect of MassCUE and has been presenting at annual conferences since 2010. Freedman is a BrainPOP certified educator, Flipgrid Ambassador, Fablevision Ambassador, and advocate for teaching digital citizenship in the classroom. She serves on the Massachusetts DESE Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards Panel. She can be found on Twitter @rlfreedm.