by Alex Gilgorri, Drew MAT ’20
The MAT program at Drew pushes students to be creative lesson planners, leaders, and teachers. In order for pre-service teachers to better understand students, content, and their own pedagogical practice, it is essential that the reflection process is in depth. Drew’s MAT program has greatly encouraged the idea of a “Growth Mindset” when it comes to self reflection and the feedback that is exchanged between colleagues, supervisors and cooperating teachers. Although the reflection process is greatly used as a mirror of growth for pedagogical practice, teacher and also reflect on their digital tools and use of technology in the classroom. Districts invest in tools that are designed to bring modern classrooms into the 21st century. Introducing these tools into a classroom setting helps students to acquire the skills to become tech savvy, career ready individuals. Oftentimes, teachers love and use the digital tools that they have available, but there are always those missing aspects that prevent the technology from being used to their fullest potential.
Every teacher has their fair share of struggles and preferences when it comes to technology, but it is encouraging to know that EdTech companies actually listen to feedback from schools and teachers. These companies utilize this feedback as the primary driving force in their product development. Educators are encouraged to engage in a reflection process that looks at both pedagogical practice. Why not take the extra step to reflect on technology use in the classroom by providing feedback to EdTech companies on their effectiveness.
When providing feedback, EdTech companies note that the most helpful feedback they receive is actionable, meaning that the feedback describes the problems that teachers have with their digital tools. Frequently, the feedback these companies receive provide “solutions” or ways that the product can be made better. Hypothetically, these tech companies could give school districts exactly what they are requesting in terms of “solutions”, however, teachers may not be aware of what other impacts their requests could have on these tools.Therefore, when feedback is provided that contextualizes the problems being faced in the classroom with that particular technology, it is much easier for these companies to make adjustments to their programs in order to better cater to the needs of students and overall instruction.
Lastly, each district is very unique and faces various technological issues. When providing feedback EdTech companies, it is important to remember that it takes time to for these companies to consider the wide range of feedback they are receiving from districts around the country and ultimately implement changes that are worthwhile. As the Director of Product Management at Allovue, Maggie Lubberts notes, “Just because I can’t do what you want right now doesn’t mean I don’t value your feedback and that your idea isn’t good,”. Continue to have that open dialogue with colleagues as well as these large EdTech companies because it will inevitably make experiences with technology in the classroom better.
Reflection and feedback extend much further than teachers, students, schools and districts. At Drew University, pre-service teachers are learning the value of reflection and actionable feedback in the classroom and placements. Reflection is a transferable skill that, when applied outside of the classroom, can help to better what is being done in schools.- Help Us Help You: How Schools Can Give Useful Feedback to Edtech Companies