"Exploring Secondary Mathematics Teachers' Reasons for Not Using Computers in Their Teaching: Five Case Studies"
(Norton, McRobbie, & Cooper, 2000)

Emily Kennedy

To me, one of the most interesting findings of this study was the impact a school's atmosphere can have on teachers' use of technology. While I used to think that technology is so rarely used in mathematics classrooms simply because it is unavailable or because teachers have insufficient knowledge of the software, these case studies illustrated that there are many other, less obvious factors that can affect the use of technology. For instance, although the school in the study seemed to have adequate technology resources available to teachers, Mary—the only teacher in the study with what the researchers deemed a learner-focused style of instruction—was reluctant to use technology despite her understanding of its benefits. She said she felt "out-of-step" with her department, which affected not only her morale but also her teaching style. She was hesitant to encourage a learner-focused environment because of her school's focus on testing and highly structured classrooms, and in such an environment, Mary alone didn't have much of a chance of changing her coworkers' beliefs and attitudes about technology or teaching in general. The article concludes by saying that simply providing technology does not mean it will be used, and that it can be extremely difficult to change teachers' minds about whether technology is worth the time and effort it takes to use it effectively.

I met my future coworkers at a Math Department cookout last week, and I couldn't be happier about where I'll be teaching. Unlike Mary, I think I will be surrounded by people who will challenge me to make me a better teacher, instead of sneering at anything new I decide to try in my classroom. I feel that my philosophy and theirs are in line, so it will be easy for me to take lessons from them and learn from their experience and teaching styles. Where Mary felt shut down by her coworkers, I feel the opposite. Thankfully, this will encourage me to try different things—such as using technology—that I might be afraid to use if my colleagues took a more traditional approach to teaching math.

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