I refused a teaching job once because the principal wouldn’t consider buying an interactive whiteboard. I did it because I firmly believe that interactive whiteboards are essential parts of classroom instruction. Not only are they valuable tools for teachers, they increase the quality of instruction students receive. I know that many districts think of them as luxuries, but if educators can start thinking of them as necessities, we’ll begin to see more positive change in education for three main reasons.

1. Improving technological competence

Interactive whiteboards are a gateway to improving technological competence in our students. They’re the perfect format for sharing student work that is web-based and digital in nature. They familiarize students with some basic tenets of technology from an early age, and they help create young adults with the technological skills necessary to get hired by today’s computer-driven corporate world.

2. Student engagement

Second, interactive whiteboards greatly increase student engagement. We know that students who are actually engaged and interested in a lesson will retain information and skills far better than students who are bored and distracted. High student engagement rates often eliminate minor problem behaviors that can take up valuable classroom time and teacher attention.

3. Ecologically friendly

Third, interactive whiteboards are often more ecologically friendly than paper alternatives. When lessons can be transmitted and assessed digitally, the amount of paper being used is greatly reduced. As teachers, that means less time at the copy machine and more time focusing on lesson planning.

As a teacher who’s worked in classrooms with interactive whiteboards and classrooms without them, I know which I prefer. When I have one, I need less paper copies, but I can spend more time planning engaging lessons. My students are enthralled because my lessons are interactive and dynamic, and I can easily incorporate multimedia elements. My students interact with the whiteboard, and gain new skills in making slideshows, videos and audio recordings that can be displayed on the interactive whiteboard. My classroom is a better place because it’s there.