21st Century Classroom Technology Goals with Drew Purcell

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Click above to listen to this podcast episode. Below is the transcript for Student-Centered World Podcast Episode 47: “The Future of Classroom Technology in the Classroom with Drew Purcell

Hey everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Student-Centered World podcast. Today I had the opportunity to talk with Drew Purcell, who is a history teacher by trade, but now is moving more into the tech sector as a Google certified trainer. We had a great conversation about the future of technology in the classroom, Drew goes out and he helps teachers whether they can barely draft an email or are always looking for the next best thing in improving their tech skills. 

One of the things that we really focused on is the idea that every single teacher has the ability to not only go through the motions with technology but really embrace it if it is explained to them in a way that makes sense. So, we were in full agreement that whether or not you like to believe it, tech definitely isn’t going anywhere in education, and everybody can totally master it. So, if you use tech in the classroom, or you want to use tech in the classroom, which let’s be honest, is all of us, you are really going to enjoy today’s podcast episode.

Welcome to the Student-Centered World podcast where we talk about all things hands-on teaching and keeping your energy and sanity in the classroom. This teacher turned consultant is making it her mission to help as many teachers as possible become the best version of themselves and keep their passion for teaching on fire. It’s her hope that we never forget why we desire to have a passion for educational progress. This is Student-Centered World, and this is Jenn Breisacher.

Jenn Breisacher: Okay, so do you want to just take a minute and let everybody know who it is that they are listening to? 

Drew Purcell: Yeah, this is Drew Purcell. I’m a history teacher and coach of a few sports, wrestling, and baseball and I also am a certified Google trainer. I’ve been teaching workshops in and around my district for the last about four years in various technology tools in the classroom, which apparently is now more important than ever. So, yes.

Jenn Breisacher: COVID definitely taught people that technology isn’t something that you can just pretend does not exist. That is for sure. Have you found that there’s been an uptick of people asking questions, or if people just been muddling through? What have you seen when it comes to tech in the classroom? Well, for one, when our district shut down back in March, like most of the world, I was one of the people in a little mini future-ready teachers group like task force that we were teaching workshops the last two years, and we were basically like a help desk for the district to help teachers go. 

I’ve been teaching math using a whiteboard for the last 20 years or a chalkboard, how do I do this online? People asking questions as simple as, how do I upload things to Google Classroom? How do I use Google Classroom? So, the intro stuff became very needed for a lot of teachers in our district, especially just how do I share a Google Drive file, and things like that, or Google School? So, I think just the questions on the basic stuff went from, I’m never going to use that to oh, my God, I need this. 

Jenn Breisacher: Right. I definitely saw that transition as well back in March, when we started our mastermind group on Facebook. The conversation seemed to change weekly. It first started with I have no idea how I’m going to do this and then it turned into I guess I get have to figure this out. Then we’ll how are you doing it? Then it just morphed as it went.

So, when you’ve been working with some of these teachers that may have been resistant to the technology or never really used it before? Did you find there were certain programs that they were able to pick up on a little bit quicker or was it the same learning curve for whatever you were teaching them? 

Drew Purcell: I think, if I can use an example for this, I think that’d be a great one. So, I was teaching a bunch of adult education teachers that we’re teaching nursing through a vocational program for adults. They were all retired health care workers who were all women in their 50s and 60s, who were I don’t know how I know how Gmail works, but I don’t know how to make a label or organize stuff.

I found the learning curve, at first was very… I never used it before. I never had to, but they were forced to. I always preach that this is not going to change your life and make it better. It’s a better delivery system. I always like to preach it that way. If you can just look at it like that way and not like a huge, insurmountable mountain of technology to climb, it’s a lot easier to digest and figure out. 

Oh, look, you can organize your inbox folders just like outlook like you’ve been doing, for AOL mail, whatever you’ve been using, your Hotmail account, or just in general. Google Drive is like my documents folder on your computer. You know how to do that, right? Oh, yeah. You make those little connections, I think, which is very important when you’re teaching people that don’t understand.

If you gave them a couple of acronyms of like, what’s a URL or HTTPS? It’s like what does that even mean? So, you have to like to speak in their language and let them know hey, technology can be revolutionary and life-saving, but it doesn’t have to be. It can just make your life a little easier if you look at it as a delivery system. 

That is my mantra whenever I’m teaching these kinds of things, especially the newbies. We have a bunch of people in a room, they’re like, oh, yeah, I know, to use this, show me a cool way I can make my Google Slides better. Interactive drag and drop worksheet on Google Slides. Sure, I can do that.

But for new people, you really have to bring it down to the level and just say, hey, I’m not going to yell at you for not knowing how to use a keyboard that well. Just this is what you can do to make things a little easier on yourself. 

Jenn Breisacher: I think that’s such a great way of looking at that because there are so many people that when they were thrust because of COVID into using tech, it just seemed so overwhelming. But when you put it like that and saying it’s the same type of things that you’re doing elsewhere, you’re just doing it digitally, or on this new platform, it makes it a lot more manageable and easier to understand.

They have a frame of reference that they might not have had when they just heard of Nearpod or some other type of system. 

Drew Purcell: Yeah, like, they have like, oh, we use this online learning thing. We have different links for each week, a little module for different nursing courses. I keep using this one. This was most recent training I did a month ago. So, this is what I’m using as an example here. But I also use Google Classroom and make assignments and have the link right there. It’s like, oh, this is just like making a post. I was like, yeah, like a Facebook post.

Look at it that way because you know, when all our parents and grandparents are on Facebook now, it’s why all the kids left, because it’s so not cool. But now, we’ve moved on Twitter, and Tik Tok and Instagram. They use it like that. You just find their language and how it works and try to find a way to make it happen. Oh, look, you have a great PDF or a printout of parts of a bone structure. Great, you can upload the PDF right here.

It’s just a different way of giving out the paper. 

The true future of technology in the classroom

Jenn Breisacher: Would you say, in teaching these teachers, these new technology tools? Are they kind of using them as a means to an end or are they really seeing the benefit of using them long-term once they know how they work? 

Drew Purcell: I think after the school year, I could answer that question a little better because schools are being remote or hybrid right now. I don’t think anyone I know of; I’ve spoken to at least around here is dealing with full back to back to school stuff. But, I think after this year, I’ll have a better way to answer that.

But for now, I think some teachers are seeing the value of Google Drive and Google Classroom, just for a way of communicating in Google Meet or Zoom, whatever district tool they’re using, but I think that will remain.

I don’t know if we’re going to see people that are resisting technology, start using these awesome extensions on Google Docs, and slides that make hyper docs or multimedia interactive web quests. 

I don’t think they’re going to do that. But I think some people that were kind of curious about it now are given the opportunity, as long as they have good support from their district leadership. I think most teachers are getting a little bit more of leeway now, because they’re doing things on the fly without much guidance in many districts. Just figure it out, teach hybrid, or just teach remotely. Figure it out.

So, there’s more of a little bit of leeway to take a chance and possibly fail because the leadership, hopefully, is understanding of that. I know, I’ve experienced that in my district as well. 

Jenn Breisacher: I know, that’s been something that I’ve been preaching to teachers all along that now is the time to try stuff if you’ve been thinking about it, but you couldn’t figure out time to work it in before. Everybody’s trying to figure things out this year so why not give it a chance? Would you say that this is going to propel districts to have more of an expectation with technology or is it just something that people are doing to try to make it through this year? 

Drew Purcell: I think it really comes down to the individual one also. I think leadership is the most important part of it. It’s like if you could look at one silver lining of COVIDs effect on education that we could rethink and restructure the way education works. I’m a teacher, you used to be a teacher. I love my job and there’s a lot of great things about it. But there’s a lot of times teachers feel like the system is working against them and what they know is best.

Now, obviously, teachers are individuals, and you have good and bad teachers, but I think overall, teachers at the end of the day want to do some good in the world, and help inspire and make lifelong learners. I mean, no matter if you teach physics, auto, woodshop, math. Math and physics are pretty much the same things. I don’t know. I’m a history teacher, whatever but you want to be able to create lifelong learners. That’s the goal. 

So, hopefully, at the end of the day, there will be a way we can possibly have long-term positive effects on education. We don’t need standardized testing apparently, during a COVID year. We can get rid of that. There’s money involved in that so I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m hoping people do embrace it and like say, okay, here’s a cool way we can make interactive, engaging lessons using technology for kids”.

I don’t think every teacher is going to be able to do that if they’re not tech-savvy, but I’m hoping there’s more of a chance to use digital tools in the classroom because of that, and also rethink the way education is given and make it more student-centered. 

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah, and it’s absolutely helping benefit our students in general, because there’s so much information out there about how Generation Z is just really different, and they learn differently, and they’ve always been in a tech-heavy world.

They might not understand the technology right away and that’s something that’s a big learning curve that I’m finding with teachers is they just assume that since they’re a tech-heavy generation, you’re going to throw a platform in front of them, and they’re going to get it right away. 

Drew Purcell: They only know cell phones. How to use a keyboard, what?

Jenn Breisacher: Right, right. I always found that kids didn’t know how to Google things, because they would either just ask Siri, or they would take whatever the question was, and legitimately type the entire question into the Google box and be like, oh, it’s not on here. Really, the answer is not on Google. You have to take a step back and be like, alright, let’s talk about how you Google something.

With all of these tech tools, we assume well, the kids can figure out Tik Tok right away, they should be able to figure out this other stuff. But it’s a matter of finding how it’s going to engage them and intrigue them and giving them time to have that learning curve, as well as the teacher having a learning curve, and then everybody meeting in the middle to be able to use something effectively. 

Drew Purcell: Yeah, for sure. I think you bring up a great point about that as well. Thinking the tech generation, they don’t have the skills, you would think. I think this would be a great opportunity to really, if you don’t have in your district, or in your state yet digital skills and digital citizenship are integral right now. It’s not just, hey, be careful what you post on social media.

It’s also like, how do you write an email. The emails I get for kids, it’s like a text message sometimes. The subject is all written out, like, blah, blah, blah, make up this assignment and the body of the email is empty. 

I’m like, yeah, I’m not your friend, you’re texting.  I’m not saying you have to bow down and kiss the ground, but it should be semi-professional, just teach them to be able to write an email, not because from my ego, it’s because I want them to understand when they go to a company and work, or wherever they work, it could be anything, they have to be able to write an email back and forth, especially now, attending a Google Meet or a Zoom meeting.

The modicum of respect you have for the meeting and not have things you say. I think that stuff’s important, and hopefully something they can start instilling more in school. I know our district is trying.

Jenn Breisacher: I literally just had this conversation with my nine-year-old this morning. He had to write an email to his teacher, and I’m like, okay, you need to write Dear Mrs. and I was breaking it down because he can text her through email, I used to get that to where it would be almost emoji language and then not thank you, or they need to. That’s a soft skill that they need to learn.

They’re going into a technology-based world, whether we like it or not and these skills that we may be assuming that they are learning at home they’re not necessarily emailing their parents so how would their parents know that they’re not savvy in how to draft an email. It’s a bigger picture thing that we need to look at as educators and knowing that none of this is going anywhere.

If anything, it’s going to get broader as time moves forward and we need to make sure that we’re adapting our classrooms to make sure we are giving them all of the benefits in the world that we can. 

Drew Purcell: Yeah, how many? How many people in your family or friends circles that are just like, yeah, well, I never work from home but now I work from home all the time or multiple days a week. Companies or even before COVID, I found that in my experience from friends that work in the private sector, were saying, Yeah, it was great. I’ve been working there for two years now. Now, I can work from home one day a week and that made them happy. The company is like, aha.

This is my theory by the way. I have no data to back this up.

Jenn Breisacher: Well, you could talk about Google. I mean, Google does this.

Drew Purcell: Google does it yeah, for sure. It’s like, hey, they are happier. I don’t have to give them a big raise this year. I can give them one day at home to work. That way they can fulfill their duties at home, they get their laundry done that one day a week, they’re less stressed, they’re happy to work here and it works itself out. They are working from home using Zoom and emails. This is what kids need to learn how to do. They’re doing school like that right now.

Even if COVID eventually hopefully goes away they’ve proven they could do more things remotely. 

Jenn Breisacher: Right. I mean, that takes away overhead if they can make it where most people work remotely. They don’t need as big of an office. They don’t need to rent out the vending machine. There are just pieces of it that financially could certainly work out better. Then you have places that create, what am I looking for? A conference room that you can rent out spots in the conference room so if you do need to have a meeting, everyone can come together, but you don’t have to have your own building.

It saves and I think that that’s something that a lot of companies might not have been willing to consider before especially schools. 

Nobody would have thought about this before, but now if we need it where teachers have a professional development day a week, if you’re finding that you’re trying to implement some type of a new program, and you need time to reflect on that, all right, well, you know what, for this amount of time everybody’s going to be remote on Wednesdays.

That way the kids can be at home doing digital work, but the teachers can still be in and everybody still has an instructional day, so it doesn’t take away.

There are just a lot of opportunities that are opening up now that people have been forced to seeing that there isn’t just one way to do stuff. 

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Drew Purcell: Yeah, absolutely. Just even thinking about growing up. How many online classes and colleges were available when you were in college or in high school. Look at it now, there are online-only programs, I did one of those and it’s not looked down upon as much anymore. People are realizing that you can have engaging instruction and a lot of like reflective learning using the online platforms.

If you’re doing a zoom or not, it could be just the distribution of materials and, and like online discussions and things like that. I think that it’s grown without COVID, but COVID, I can keep going back to it, but let’s be honest, it’s going to change everything. It has changed everything, but I think long-term effects, they are not all necessarily bad as far as education and technology go. 

Jenn Breisacher: I think a large part of that is making sure that a teacher or a professor or a boss is trained properly to know how to make that effective, how to make sure that they are making things engaging. I spent summer 2020, trying to reach out to every teacher I possibly could say, hey, I’m going to do a free training on how to do blended learning, because my guess is a lot of your districts are saying, hey, we’re going to be doing blended learning, but we’ll figure it out. It’s fine.

There were so many teachers that came to me saying, I have no idea what I’m doing. So, I tried to break it down to them.

It was frustrating to me, especially when the video series is ended. Our school year started still hearing all of these teachers coming forward saying they didn’t know how to do this well, and they didn’t know how to do it effectively and the kids aren’t engaged. It’s so frustrating, because it’s like, if this is what your company or your school or your district is going to do. You need to make sure that the people who are doing it know what they’re doing.

Drew Purcell: Yeah. One of the classes I did take in my program was educational technology leadership course and for the readings and discussions, it seemed to me like in my perspective, is that I don’t think you need to be a tech guru to be a tech leadership position. I think being a problem solver is one of the best skills to have because I can use Microsoft Excel to a certain extent but guess what, it’s I’m Googling how to use formulas. I know how to Google. That’s how I figure a lot of things out.

I don’t remember how to do everything, and I think you’d probably said the same about yourself like, Oh, yeah, how to do that again? I don’t memorize everything. It’s like, yeah, check things online. I think just being inspirational and being able to delegate and not micromanage creative people. 

Teachers are creative people by nature, and I think education and creativity can be stifled if you micromanage in that way. If you have a leader that’s like, hey, listen, I don’t know the best way to do it, but I know you guys all do and I just want to make sure you have a creative space to work and collaborate if that’s your thing, or whatever. Do you know what I mean? I think that’s kind of the way it should go and say it’s okay to make mistakes.

You’re trying to do what’s in the best interest for the students and the educational process, I think that like Jenn said earlier, but having that little bit of leeway to take a leap of faith, and possibly fall flat on your face, but knowing that you’re not…

Jenn Breisacher: And that’s okay. 

future of technology in the classroom

Drew Purcell: Yeah. If you have a bad observation because of it, it’s like, hey, it wasn’t because you weren’t trying? It’s because it didn’t work out. What are you going to learn? Teaching is a reflective practice. I remember the old undergrad class. Is it an art form? Is it a craft? Is it a profession? What would you categorize it as? There are so many different aspects to it. It’s one of the true jobs where it won’t be the same thing every day, which that’s one of the things that attracted me to it in the first place. 

Jenn Breisacher: Right. I mean, I’ve been saying this all along, that the schools that are doing the best right now that are trying to muddle through and find the tech and figure out what’s going to work and worrying about everybody’s mental health. It’s all coming from administrators that are one willing to admit that this is all new. We’re not really 100% sure how this is going to work out, but we’re going to give it a try.

They’re getting feedback from their teachers, what’s working, what’s not working, what can we expand upon, what can we change, what should we stop?

It’s having that dialogue with all the stakeholders and then of course, the teacher is talking to the students to find out why aren’t they engaged? What is making them excited? Why are they logging on if they’re digital? It’s a big conversation that has to happen. It’s all facilitated from an administrator team that wants their school to be successful. 

Drew Purcell: Yeah, absolutely. Some of the best experiences I’ve had even when I was teaching peer to peer led training at my school. It’s one of the few opportunities I got when I first got into teaching workshops and teaching other teachers was the supervisor that was in charge of our little unit said, these are the expectations, what we’re doing. This is what we got title grant money for. Here’s what we need to have done. What do you guys think?

She was very hands-off and let us develop what we thought was best based on how you guys people got hired for this position. This is your peer-led group. That management style appealed to me, I was like, if I were in that situation, that’s the way I would handle it too. 

Obviously, I wouldn’t do everything the same, because we all think we can do a little better. But that to me was like, okay, we have teachers collaborating to create workshops for other teachers who aspire to be better educators. That’s where I think my leadership philosophy comes from and also just the way I manage my classroom, too, I don’t want to be hovering over every kid. Listen to music, be creative, hey, give you project options especially this year with the whole virtual stuff.

It’s like, I don’t need you all to write me an essay for this DBQ in history.

I’ve been initiating other things. Alright, I’ll give you a scenario. Here’s a Flipgrid video, you’re going to be a lawyer, defend John Brown or prosecute John Brown, or write me a newspaper article. Just examples of giving them choice and that and student choice is one of the most effective ways of integrating students that are learning in your classroom. 

Jenn Breisacher: Absolutely. I mean, if you’re preaching giving your students choice, and that it’s okay to fail, obviously, not like a massive end-of-unit test or something like that. But if you try something out, and it doesn’t work, let’s figure out why it didn’t work and try again, if you’re doing all of that, preaching it to your students. If that’s the atmosphere, then the teacher should be allowed the same thing.

They should be allowed to be trying stuff and not having someone breathing down their neck with all these regulations, and give a framework and then expect that they’re going to figure out.

If they don’t figure it out, then you have those individual conversations with each teacher of hey, we see that this is the area that seems to be a little bit weak right now. Why don’t we find a professional development that you can go to help you out or there’s this teacher down the hall that really does this well? Why don’t we set up some time so the two of you can meet and have a conversation? Those are the districts that are doing awesome right now.

Drew Purcell: Yeah, meaningful professional development. If you give them an opportunity to go to like a workshop they like, rather than, oh, I’ve just got to fill my hours. 

Jenn Breisacher: Right.

Drew Purcell: Even if it sounds a little hokey. How many social-emotional learning workshops were available eight years ago? 

Jenn Breisacher: Right.

Drew Purcell: It’s like, why would you pay money to go to that? Now, there’s plenty of them just say sensitive to people in marginalized communities. Those are workshops. Some people are like, you know what, I need more exposure to that, or it could be simple stuff like you and me want to want to hawk our wares. Hey, we’ve got some cool technology stuff we can show you.

I can show you how to integrate Google tools at a high level in your classroom more than you ever thought, or I can show you a way that you can use an online tool like Canva instead of having to wait for the budget to come in and you buy posters, or in a COVID world where you can’t get out posters, you make them online. So, there are a lot of different ways you can really just get people involved in all this stuff.

Jenn Breisacher: Right. I think professional development needs to be hands-on. There’s nothing I hate worse and when I started Student-Centered World, my entire premise was this. I hated when I would go to a workshop and they would talk at me the entire time. They would lecture to me about how you’re not supposed to lecture. Then the day would be over, and you’d leave, and you wouldn’t have any time to have anything meaningful done.

You wouldn’t have time to try anything out.

Anything that you got would end up being thrown on a shelf somewhere because you then have to get back to the grind. So, when I developed my course, I made it so as you go through each module in the course, you were planning out the lesson or the unit that you’re talking about. So, when you’re done with the course you’re ready to implement it immediately because that’s the way it should be. You should be learning about what you’re doing by doing it. 

Drew Purcell: Absolutely. I feel the same way you do. I think you and I’ve had conversations about this very same thing. It’s like, you just taught me using the Danielson ABC and D quadrant. C and D is like the higher-level thinking and C is like the analytical, the evaluative, and D is like the creating, and taking the information and like making something like you know, amazing. 

I’m going to make a whole new government based on the book we read that talked about different systems of government, doing something like that.

The whole presentation of the professional development will be about how we should make C and D quadrant lessons that have higher-order thinking, but it’s taught in a lecture style, which is the A and B quadrant. I’m sure many teachers have been listening to this will probably be familiar with those things or Bloom’s Taxonomy. 

I want you to use the highest part of Bloom’s Taxonomy but I’m going to explain it to you and at the lowest level, make sure you recall, and that’s the most frustrating. I think some of the most effective college courses were like, hey, for this project, I actually got to create a training for a project that I was able to use. 

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah.

Drew Purcell: Those kinds of things and it sounds like you’re doing that in Student-Centered World which is great. You walk away with like, oh, I could use this, or this is meaningful to me.

Jenn Breisacher: I remember going to a professional development once that it was all about the ABCD quadrants and all they were doing was explaining it. We, as a group explained to the presenter that we knew what they were, could we maybe have some time to work on them.

She refused to deviate from what she was giving us and just kept lecturing the entire time. So, what ended up being was either a waste of a day for everybody or a time that people got caught up with their greeting because it wasn’t useful. 

Drew Purcell: 123 PowerPoint slides of a bunch of malarkey, right to put it nicely. That’s very frustrating for things like that to happen. That’s one of the things I always preach in my workshops. The workshop with the adult and health care workers. I spent a good amount of the two-night workshop of the first hour and a half spending time showing and displaying but I have very few slides, I’m more of a follow along with me on the projector.

Let’s play around, I’ll help you individually, which is almost just the same way you teach a class. I’m going to model for you how to do this algebra problem. I want you guys to try it on your own, then we’ll play around with it. Now try these equations and I’ll walk around and help you. It’s the same style, just your saying applies. If you can start reading lessons while you’re learning Google Classroom, that’d be awesome. 

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah.

Drew Purcell: Play around and I think the wordplay gets thrown around. It’s like, oh, it’s not effective. But no, you need to learn how to use this stuff. If you have a great idea, I talked about Canva earlier. If you have a great idea play around with Canva so you know how to work. That way you can say oh, I have a great wanted poster I used for this one project in English when we read this novel. I can do it on here.

This is how to do it the way it can help the kids. You walk away now you have a new lesson already; you’ve just got to maybe work out the kinks. 

Jenn Breisacher: Right. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel either. You can go on YouTube and find exactly what it is that you’re trying to figure out how to do. You can join different groups on Facebook with other teachers to expand your PLN and be like, hey, this is my idea. Does anyone have any feedback? I know in our Facebook group that happens all the time.

People are like, hey, I have this project that I want to do but I’m not quite sure. Does anybody have any ideas? People are like I did this, I’ve used this boom, boom, boom. Next thing you know, you have exactly what you were looking for.

Drew Purcell: My best projects and sometimes lessons are Frankenstein’s and most of the ones I found online and my own flavor or twist or my own idea that I use other things that piece it all together. That to me, I think about the ones that I’m always like, oh, I hope my observation walks in on this day. This is going to be you an awesome lesson. That’s always been that collaboration of other teachers whether or not they knew it or not.

They just happen to post an online rubric on a website that had this project. I’m like, “Oh, that sounds like a good thing; I want to do it”. 

Jenn Breisacher: Right.

Drew Purcell: So, many new teachers are out there. Don’t be ashamed to not write the whole lesson plan yourself. I think that’s it was ingrained in my head as an undergrad and it was like, “Oh, I can make this a lot easier on myself and also find some really good resources”.

I always use this example. How many times you ever go out to a bar or a restaurant and there’s a cover band that’s making money playing other people’s songs. They do their own version of it so wow, that was a great cover. I’ve never heard of a Hotel California done that way. Well, you can do the same thing with teaching if you find online resources for teachers.

Jenn Breisacher: Two things got beaten in my head my very first year of teaching. Number one was don’t ever reinvent the wheel. No matter what idea you have somebody out there has probably created some version of it that will at least give you a template to put together that you can then just make into your own brainchild. Number two was it’s your job, it’s not your life.  It’s what we all love. It’s our passion but at the end of the day if you left they’d replace you.

So, it’s important to remember that you know it’s much time and effort, but the stress level does not need to be where it is. It’s very much a mindset shift in the classroom of how can we take what we already have, move it around, jazz it up a little bit, and make it so you’re not stressed out and it’s not taking over all the time you have in your life.

Drew Purcell: Yeah. I’ve had new teachers; I’ve mentored them, and you can be okay with syncing your Gmail account from school when you get home. Tick it and you can use the time to reflect and think about it but don’t stress yourself out, kill yourself over I need to be online all the time. I think it’s a lot of things, a little tip for today too and then the virtual classrooms people feel like they have to be on call.

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah, I have a whole thing about work life balance especially during teaching, you need it. 

Drew Purcell: Yeah. You need to have like little things for yourself. I look forward to having a cup of tea and watching Netflix tonight and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to look at my Google Classroom page.

Jenn Breisacher: So, when you’re doing training, is that something that you only do for your district, or is that something that you do virtually for other districts? How does that normally work for you? 

Drew Purcell: So, obviously I prefer to be in-person because I’m such a lively, wonderful fellow to be around. Obviously, I can work their webinars, that’s fine. I’ve taught a majority of the workshops in my district only because there have been opportunities there and our district was really pushing technology initiatives, and I jumped on it as soon as it started. I kind of grew with that. But no, I’ve taught outside the district as well. Like I said, adult education.

That was a great opportunity to really flex my Google trainer skills because I was working outside of a typical K through 12 environment. It was adult education. I was like alright; how can I tie in nursing and being a registered CNA to what I know. But, I was like, oh, yeah, delivery system, it works. So, yeah, I mean, online, and in-person was the way I normally… It doesn’t really matter to me; I can do either especially with all the chops I have from teaching virtual high school history for the last almost year.

From the COVID lockdown, I’ve got my virtual teaching chops up for sure although I prefer in person as I’m sure most people do. We like to hear ourselves talk, people, to be there and not look at black screens. 

Jenn Breisacher: So, say there’s a school district that’s listening to this right now and they’re like, wow, this guy, he’s obviously a Google trainer. He’s got all these different tech certifications. He sounds like a guy; we need to talk to. What would be the best way for them to contact you? 

Drew Purcell: Well, I think email, not snail mail, no Western Union, drewpurcell12@gmail.com. On LinkedIn as well, if they want to collaborate on there, I just started using that and trying to navigate that part of social media, but really my email and I’ll set something up. Let’s do it. One of my favorite things to do is have evidence of projects that students have done for me using a technology tool or using like, hey, this is a cool student-centered lesson that they made a digital product, whether it was a video or a poster, I’ve had to make podcasts, things like that.

So, I’m like, “Hey, look, there are some things I’ve done”.  I can teach your district how to do these things or things like that. But obviously, a phone call works to get a talk on the phone, like old school, get my rotary phone out, we’ll do it.

Jenn Breisacher: Tied to the wall. So, if you had any closing thoughts for a teacher that maybe is struggling to get the tech under their belt or really wants to learn more, they only know the basic stuff, they want to go advanced what advice would you give them?

Drew Purcell:  Well, if you’re a self-driven learner, obviously, we talked about this before, using the internet. YouTube how-to Videos would definitely be a good place to start if you feel you can help yourself. If you need more assistance than that there are people like me available. You’ve got Student-Centered World and also through myself, I mean, a certified Google trainer, it’s not all I do. I’m going to teach you.

Once again, it’s a delivery system, whether you’re beginner, intermediate, or advanced collaborating to make the experience of teaching using technology that much easier for you, whether you’re a Microsoft school or a Google school, or you’re like, I don’t know what kind of school we are, but I need to figure out how this works. 

Jenn Breisacher: We use typewriters.

Drew Purcell: I can help you with that as well. I can make very collaborative interactive lessons using a typewriter. 

Jenn Breisacher: There you go.

Drew Purcell: I haven’t done it before, but I guarantee I can figure it out by the time we talk. So, yeah, if you’re looking for someone that can understand the differentiating levels of where you’re at in technology, I can do that for you. I pride myself on teaching multiple different kinds of diverse learners, whether it’s special ed, special needs, or kids from different backgrounds.

As a history teacher, I think I’ve done that effectively and I do the same thing as a technology guru, teaching a district or individual one-on-one coaching and yeah.

Jenn Breisacher: On that note, I want to thank you for chatting today and I’m hoping that we were able to give some of our listeners some really great ideas and that they are not shy that if they have questions to reach out. 

Drew Purcell: All right. Well, thanks for having me on. This was fun.

Classroom Technology and the 4 Keys

Finding a system of using classroom technology with your students that works isn’t difficult, it just needs to ebb and flow with the students and where they are (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Being flexible is the key to making all of this work. The key is engagement. There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge that releases twice per year. It is called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom.

If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available.

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