Teachers want to expand, improve, and hone their craft. They want the opportunity to learn from and with others. Many teachers even crave improvement in the area of technology.
Then reality brings everything to a screeeeeeeching halt!
Top Four Technology Improvement Roadblocks
Here are the top four roadblocks for teachers trying to improve technology in the classroom:
- Time: There is a lack of scheduled time for sufficient technology training.
- Support: Teachers need sustained support to grow their knowledge and understanding of the technology, as well as, implementing it in their classroom.
- Personalized Attention: Due to large groups, it is difficult for teachers to get the attention they need to make change.
- Collaboration: Teachers want to collaborate, but with the demands of the classroom, they struggle to find time to collaborate and apply training directly to their work.
Tech training/coaching is often delivered to large groups in brief chunks of time, and follow up often does not occur because of time restraints and other priorities. This is like an Algebra teacher giving a speed lesson on quadratics. Sure, the most experienced ones will get it, but many will not, and it’s possible that an effective application to teaching may not occur for anyone.
Breaking Through, A Proposed Solution
To break through these roadblocks, I have started pursuing tech integration within school-based Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Many districts and schools have set up grade-level or content-area PLCs to nurture growth among staff and provide time for collaboration.
This is an ideal way to incorporate technology integration for the following reasons:
- Small groups are able to work towards the same or similar goals.
- Different levels of learners can get support and support each other more easily.
- Collaboration and application can occur more easily. If a half hour or so a month can be devoted to tech focus, then a sustained and focused program can be enacted.
Examples in Action
At East Oakview Elementary, I am meeting four times a year with grade level groups to help them with the process of implementing a school-based PLC to help with their technology integration.
In our meetings we have:
- Introduced student tech use expectations to establish goals.
- Established grade level groups to share instructional focus and tech interests prior to meetings.
- Gathered input so I could prepare training and support based on their needs.
- Collaborated to apply training to each teachers’ curriculum and set personal goals.
- Followed up on progress and set next steps based on where the entire group is in the process.
This is all documented in a common place where all teachers can contribute thoughts and responses, as well as, reference support materials.
How this Could Work in Your District or School?
This approach could be replicated in any building or district. Wherever people are meeting to plan, discuss, and prepare. Brief and periodic meetings, with Kent ISD technology consultants, can enhance the process in meaningful ways.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to set up a meeting.
About Our Guest Blogger: Craig Steenstra
Craig Steenstra is an educational technology consultant at Kent ISD. He has developed a K-5 technology integration site that has been very useful to many districts in Kent County. He also writes blog posts for the Kent ISD Ed Tech Blog in conjunction with the rest of the Kent ISD Ed Tech Team.