‘Tis the season when everyone is looking for the perfect present. Wherever you turn, there are gift ideas for outdoors folks, gourmet cooks, book lovers, animal fans and, of course, tech people. 

In our interconnected and fast-paced world, it’s easy to point, click and order something that can be delivered right to someone’s front door. But, if you read Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the best gift comes without ribbons, it comes without tags, it comes without packages, boxes or bags! 

The best gift for anyone on your list is the gift of time. 

Our students need time to think, to create, to question, to explore. Technology allows us to differentiate our instruction so that students can focus on their personal learning needs. Technology also helps us save time by helping us lesson planning and organizing our classrooms with AI like Co-Pilot. One student may be creating a great presentation on PowerPoint, Magic School AI or Canva while another is still using Search Coach in Teams or Bing Chat for just the right resources to copy into their OneNote. When we allow students the time to work at their own pace, we can more easily focus on those students who need a little more of our time. And when students are working on their own time, the classroom looks and sounds very different. We need to relax when the classroom isn’t quiet and allow our students to become comfortable with technology, work with it and share it with their classmates. 

Tammy DunbarThe casual technology-using teachers we train need time to feel proficient and confident in the new tech they’re learning. We must slow down and instruct them at their pace, so they don’t feel frustrated and overwhelmed. The biggest complaint I hear about trainings is that things go too far too fast. We need to check for understanding often, perhaps even showing one step and then walking around the room to make sure all are on the same page. And don’t forget to take the time to smile often or give an encouraging word so our fellow teachers know we are here to help them become proficient, no matter how long it takes. 

DogOur family and friends need to know how much we appreciate their support of our enthusiasm for educational technology. If you want, you can create a wonderful interactive story to share with them (like Dr. John Pauls’ amazing interactive How the Grinch Stole Christmas) or an exciting, personalized BreakoutEDU (like this one I made for my family). 

But the best gift to give your family is your time, without smart phones or tablets or any kind of interconnectivity. Cook and eat delicious food together, challenge each other to exciting board games, tell stories that bring smiles and laughter to all. 

Lastly, remember to give yourself a little time to rest, relax and recreate. We push ourselves and our tech to the limit most days of the school year. All too soon, we’ll all be back at it after Winter break. 

Let the only tweets you hear be from actual birds outside your window. Let the only creature stirring be you, not a (computer) mouse. Let Face Time be actual face time. 

It’s time to put down the technology for a moment and have a happy holiday season. 

Written by the Tech-Savvy Online Educator 

Tammy Dunbar

Tammy Brecht Dunbar, M.Ed., STEM 



5th Grade Online Academy Educator 

Manteca Unified School District 

MIEE Master Teacher Trainer 

Fulbright Fellow & CA Woman of the Year 


NCCE Professional Learning Specialist 

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