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Technology can help you save time, stay organized, and stay sane. As a new teacher, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the workload and tough to stay on top of all the details. Take time to get your own systems up and running, and then focus on the exciting stuff. Think of it like the oxygen masks on airlines: as the flight attendant says, put your own on first so you can be free to assist the children in your care. See "Tools for Teachers" for ways to keep life and work in sync.

It's an exciting time for technology in the classroom. Laptops, interactive whiteboards, and streaming media are just some of the tools transforming the landscape. Products have more features than ever, creating more possibilities than ever for dynamic teaching and active learning. Lessons can now take on new dimensions that promote collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. But how do you pick and choose and put it all together?

When it comes to integrating technology in the classroom, it's all about balance, about keeping the best programs and best practices in sync. It's not about pencils vs. PCs, it's about figuring out the best use for both. It's finding the best combination of tools to teach subject matter in the most compelling way. It's looking beyond the bells and whistles to determine the best means of conveying concepts and content. It's about balancing many factors, including the wow factor, and it's about balancing a budget and getting the most bang for your buck.

Some of this decision-making is beyond your control. But as a new teacher you bring the advantage of fresh ideas. Advocate for using technology effectively in your school, for keeping on the cutting edge. Inspire other teachers to use the technology you already have. Network with other teachers-new and veteran-to share ideas about effective integration. Find a good blog in our Survival Toolkit, or start one of your own.

And don't forget to make time for your own professional development. Use the Internet to become an expert in the subject matter you're teaching. Browse for creative ideas and lesson plans shared by other teachers. Do online tutorials to learn new applications. Take online courses to keep your qualifications up to date or to earn a degree and advance your career. All of this and more can be done from the comfort of your kitchen counter.

By finding creative ways to keep it all in sync-home, school, career, life-you'll find greater contentment throughout your life as a teacher. By finding creative ways to integrate technology into your lessons, you'll stay on the cutting edge of your field and keep your kids on the edge of their seats.

Got issues with technology? Here are some common factors to consider:

Maximizing Student Engagement

Maximum student engagement is a goal shared by all good teachers. You want your young students to hang onto their innate sense of curiosity, you want your older students to rekindle it.

Used effectively, technology helps hook students into subject matter and keep them engaged. Integrated multimedia content from a variety of sources helps students make connections and contextualize information. Those "ah-ha" moments become more frequent, the dazed and glazed over looks a thing of the past.

This new paradigm promotes active learning, high-level thinking, collaborative problem-solving-challenging stuff that makes kids want to work, and prepares them for life in the new digital age. Students become more self-directed and more invested in learning. Which makes teachers feel more rewarded and invested in teaching.

Tackling Technophobia

Rather avoid technology altogether? Don't have a clue where to begin? Or have you mastered Word and that's all you need, thank you very much?

You're not alone. Visit the Professional Development section of the Survival Toolkit and you'll be persuaded to get your feet wet. There are plenty of tutorials that allow you to follow step-by-step instructions at your own pace. Give it a try-it's easier than you think!

And why not learn alongside or from your students? They're probably the best teachers of all when in comes to technology, and their fearlessness just may rub off on the rest of us.

Time Savers

New teachers barely have time to brush their teeth, let alone learn new technology. But here's the thing to remember: Technology will increase the efficiency of your classroom and save you time. You'll be able to cover more material in a more in-depth way and reach more students of different learning abilities and styles. So instead of feeling like you've been run over by a truck come Friday afternoon, you just might be able to put your feet up and relax.

Start by focusing on time-saving tools to make your own life easier. See "Tech Tools for Teachers" to see what we mean. Just try it already!

Creative Budgeting

Sure, all these gadgets sound great, but what if you have a limited budget? What if your district is flat broke?

First, link to the Survival Toolkit for info on grants, school discounts, special sweepstakes, and cost-cutting strategies.

In the meantime, make the most of what you have. Technology integration is about mindset, not just machinery. If you're onboard and resourceful, you can find creative solutions in myriad places. Make the most of the Internet: Send students on virtual field trips to museums around the country, on virtual treks to Egypt or Peru. Search for freebies to use yourself-you'll find downloadable applications, along with podcasts, webcasts, tutorials, and other professional development tools.

Share resources with other classrooms. For instance, mobile carts of laptop computers can be wheeled from place to place so more students can have access. Data projectors and other equipment can be shared if the budget can't support one per classroom.

Keep in mind that the tools available today combine multiple features and capabilities; five years ago you'd need to buy more components to do the same thing. So in many ways it's more cost-effective than you think.

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