Reflections on ISTE13- Keep the focus on the WHY, not the WHAT

Just prior to attending ISTE 2013, I read a piece on (originally from the Always Prepped blog) on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Technology Teachers.

What really struck me was the first entry – ALWAYS START WITH THE WHY. Too many times, as teachers who love technology, we get wrapped up in the details of the latest tech tool and forget why we are using that tool in the first place. It’s so easy to get lost in the latest gadget, tip, or trick for your students. Unfortunately, sometimes we lose the focus on good pedagogy amidst the bells and whistles of our FAVORITE NEW THING.

At ISTE, I learned about A LOT of new gadgets, tips, tricks, websites, and applications. But I resisted the temptation to get lost in the WOW factor and tried to keep my focus on the question “How can this help me maximize student engagement and achievement?”. The WOW factor is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but we need to see each new tool as what it is: just another tool, not a total redefinition of our pedagogy and best practices. Just as a new car doesn’t change the way we drive (or what we know about driving), a new website doesn’t change the way kids learn or think about learning. What matters most is STILL the teacher’s ability to facilitate learning and give kids experiences that they will remember.

So, when you hear about the latest new tip, trick, or website, resist the temptation to dive in and always remember the why – technology for technology’s sake is perhaps the most dangerous idea of our times. Give your students experiences they will remember, regardless of the technology involved.



Here are a couple of links to great reflections on the ISTE13 Conference in San Antonio. Enjoy!

Chris Rogers is a technology coach for a K-5 elementary school in Georgia. Follow him on Twitter (@cdr58_1977) or email directly to


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