Since booting up an Apple II Plus computer for the first time as a child, Barry Kallmeyer has been captivated by technology. Now as the chief information officer at Hathaway Brown School, where he’s also been a technology teacher for 23 years, he is responsible for imparting that same awe and appreciation to the next generation. “Technology opens so many doors,” he says, “and I want our students to be ready to thrive in the modern world.” This year, Kallmeyer’s mission to further bring technology into education received (and passed) its biggest test yet: the COVID-19 pandemic.
Technology is always changing. Every few years, I have to reinvent myself.
When you try something new, you have to talk to the students about what works and what doesn’t. Stay connected to the kids and start conversations about their experiences. Students know a lot about technology, but they’re learning a lot of this right along with us. They know the ins and outs of TikTok better than us, though.
In 2005-06, we started our transition to 1:1 technology with the PalmOne Zire 72. You know, those little things with the teeny stylus. It didn't work. The technology just wasn’t there yet. A few years later, the iPad 2 came out. We started using that, and it’s been awesome.
You have to put technology into students’ hands. They can learn and create instead of just listening to teachers recite the content. The 1:1 program makes that possible.
Hathaway Brown is all about innovation. We tried the PalmOne and it didn’t work out. But that spirit of experimentation positioned us to make this sudden shift to remote learning.
I'm really proud of our teachers for the work they did to reenvision their classrooms during the pandemic.How do you organize content so kids can see it? How should they turn in assignments? How do you connect these kids with each other? Those are the questions we had to answer. After the pandemic, I think we’ll see more “flipped classrooms.” Teachers can record themselves giving instruction and students can watch wherever or whenever they want.
That leaves classroom time for discussion and working through certain problems together. The pandemic has shown me how much I appreciate those little in-person moments, like stopping in the hallway to discuss Minecraft with a student.
It's so much harder to make that connection in a remote setting. I really miss that. I want to get back to that.