With new technology rolling into schools constantly it can be easy for a teacher to become overwhelmed. As coaches, I think we can help teachers become more comfortable using technology. According to Standard 1d from ISTE coaches “Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms”. Looking deeper into this substandard I wanted to know strategies to help teachers feel less overwhelmed with new technology innovations.
With districts and schools being different across the nation there are different struggles teachers can have when implementing technology regardless of the grade level. Brendon Hyndman, a Senior Lecturer and Course Director at Charles Sturt University wrote the article “Ten Reasons teachers can struggle to use technology in the classroom” to help give an insight to what might be happening with technology use in the classroom. In the article, Hyndman stated the following ten reasons
- Introduced technology is not always preferred
- Differing device capabilities and instructions
- It’s easy for students to be distracted
- Technology can affect lesson time and flow
- Teachers need more professional development
- Not everyone has technology at home
- Teachers need to protect students
- Not all teachers “believe” in using technology
- Lack of adequate support, infrastructure, or time
- Tensions between students and teachers
While these struggles might not apply to every teacher its good for coaches to know that these struggles are happening. With this information, coaches can focus on ways to help alleviate these issues.
How Can Coaches Help Teachers
To bring education into the digital age, we must give teachers the skills they need to adapt their classrooms. And teachers can’t do it alone – they need district and state leaders to invest in meaningful professional development opportunities that let them explore new teaching practices, but what does solid professional development look like? A NWEA article by Hugh Fournier lists the following seven things to consider in teacher professional development.
- Align professional development to instructional goals. Armed with a good understanding of student learning goals, Jean says, “Look for synergies between assessment data, curricula, and other instructional resources.” When good information goes into a development program, good results will follow.
- Identify learning outcomes. While a good number of objectives will suit all teachers, there are certain teams that will need different goals and outcomes – intervention specialists, as an example. Depending on the learning outcomes needed for each team or group of teachers, different professional development needs may apply.
- Review existing professional development options. Many school districts likely have access to existing professional development tools. Are they right for your current needs or goals? That’s the key question that needs to be asked and discussed before settling on the professional development program that will bring the success your school is looking for.
- Give the gift of time. Good teacher professional development does not happen in one sitting (with or without a clown nose). It’s necessary to carve out time for teachers to meet regularly, so it’s important to dedicate time and resources accordingly.
- Make professional learning relevant. When designing or selecting your teacher professional development program, be sure to make sure that it can be applied in the classroom right away. It should possess insights and strategies that align with what teachers are doing in their daily classroom work.
- Measure success with metrics. By building evaluation metrics into the professional development program, teachers and staff will be able to measure the effectiveness of the program. In this way, adjustments can be made to ensure the overall success of the program.
- Keep staff engaged. Teachers and administrators need to be engaged throughout the program – during the collaboration time as well as in the classroom.
Tips For When PD is Over
After professional develop concludes teachers might still feel overwhelmed with all of the information they just received. One of my classmates mentioned that she has heard time and time again from teachers about PD and coaching is that they want tips, tools, and strategies that they can implement immediately without a ton of extra work.
Tips, tools, and strategies should be easily accessible to teachers. Paper handouts, a bulletin board, or an online site should be available. At my own district, all technology information including tips and tools is located in our staff KIT (Knowledgebase for Integrating Technology). On this site, teachers can find technical information about curriculum, integration, troubleshooting, etc. If there is ever a need for further assistance our helpdesk is just an email or phone call away.
Although professional development is a strong way to initiate technology for teachers hopefully, we can implement some tips, tools, and strategies to make the job of teaching less stressful. By working to ensure that teachers aren’t overwhelmed with technology integration we can have successful use in the classroom.
Fournier, Hugh. “7 Things to Consider in a #Teacher Professional Development Program | #Edchat #TeacherPD.” Teach. Learn. Grow., 11 July 2017, www.nwea.org/blog/2017/seven-things-consider-teacher-professional-development-program/.
Hyndman, Brendon. “Ten Reasons Teachers Can Struggle to Use Technology in the Classroom.” The Conversation, The Conversation, 24 Sept. 2018, theconversation.com/ten-reasons-teachers-can-struggle-to-use-technology-in-the-classroom-101114.
Iste.org. (2017). ISTE Standards For Coaches. [online] Available at: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches [Accessed 7 Oct. 2018].