Recently, I have done a lot of thinking about teachers, school districts, and technology as I work on my graduate courses for my Ed Tech degree. I have come up with a term to describe a goal for teachers: teacher technology independence. Many districts around the country will be cutting budgets again this year. And if technology does not go out with the budget, support for technology most likely will. Schools and teachers want great tech tools for their students, but districts cannot always deliver on those tools or the necessary training for effective implementation. Even when the money is there, decision makers at the district level do not always know what tools will be best for your classroom. Teachers can benefit from being independent of all that, by learning what free tools are out there, and understanding how technology works and how student learning is affected. Teachers know what is best for their own classroom and what will work for their students. We cannot always rely on our districts for technology support. In the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, here is part 1 of my series of Tips for Teacher Technology Independence:
When teachers do not receive quality technology training, the chances are much higher that the technology will not be adopted properly. There will be a small percentage of teachers who will figure things out on their own. But for most teachers, this is not a viable option. Increased frustration and confusion will cause teachers to abandon the new technology altogether, even when using could improve their work. If you find yourself in this situation, read the suggestions below for how to survive technology implementation and thrive in your classroom!
What Teachers Can Do…
Work effectively with technology support staff.
Every school and every district has a slightly different structure for technology support. Whether you have Instructional Technology Specialists or IT technicians, there are people at your school that are there to help teachers work with technology. Here are some suggestions for forging the best working relationship with your technology professionals.
- Try to understand their job.
- Ask them questions.
- You will undoubtedly understand that person and your own technology much better.
- Talk to them when you see them around the school, even when you don’t have a technology issue.
- Building a rapport with tech support will allow you to be comfortable communicating about technology.
- Understanding what they do on a daily basis and the number of work requests they get from throughout the building will help you be patient when things go wrong in your room and are not fixed immediately.
Share what you know about technology with your colleagues.
- If you see that many teachers are frustrated with new technology being integrated, offer your support. You don’t have to be an Ed Tech expert to start a conversation. You never know what you will be able to figure out when you collaborate with your fellow teachers.
- If you happen to be one of the more tech-savvy teachers on campus, try offering an informal get together to share ideas and expertise. You could meet for a “lunch and learn” to discuss different technology tools. During this type of event, colleagues get together with their lunches, or food provided, to have discussion or informal lessons about specific topics. This can create a more conversational learning opportunity.
- Create an online space for informal sharing. Since many people are already using Facebook, you can create a secret Facebook group for your school to socialize and share online, while protecting everyone’s privacy.