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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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The Dos and Don'ts of Tech Integration PD

Mary Beth Hertz

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

Of all the initiatives a school can begin, integrating technology may require the most professional development. This is partly because of the equipment, hardware, and software involved and partly because of the shift that a teacher must make in his or her teaching style, technique, and planning process in order to effectively use technology in the classroom.

Here are some basic "dos" and "don'ts" for anyone doing tech integration professional development.

Do Don't
Differentiate based on teachers' grade levels and curricular needs. Introduce the same tool to all of your teachers and expect them to use it the same way.
Focus on instruction and learning. Focus on the tool.
Allow teachers to voice their fears and apprehensions about using tech. Belittle teachers who are wary of bringing tech into their classrooms.
Give time for teachers to tinker with tools or software and use them to create their own project. Show teachers a tool and expect them to be able to use it without practice.
Check in with teachers over the next few weeks to see how their efforts to implement technology are going. Expect teachers to be able to start integrating tech based on a one-day PD experience.
Pair teachers up with colleagues who are farther along the path or even at the same place to share ideas and successes and support each other. Leave teachers to work things out on their own.

This approach requires those who provide professional development for teachers to listen to their needs, and to know the school and staff they are either visiting or presenting to. This includes situations when staff present to their colleagues. Teachers need support, and they need to see how technology will help them do what they do better and more effectively. They also have different needs, just like students, and may be coming with a variety of experiences and skill levels with technology.

For technology integration to be successful, a trainer needs to know these variances among the teachers he or she is working with and plan for how teachers will apply what they've learned with you once the session is over.

For more on building a PD model that supports teacher collaboration and voice, see my posts on the Edcamp model.

Comments (23)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

SP's picture
SP
CEO Enterthegroup.com

I agree with your analysis. I think that IT and principals should suggest solutions, but not force teachers to use one technology over another. They should help teachers learn whats out there, its pro's and cons and how to integrate it.
Ultimately teachers will have to get digital, but they should get to dip their toes in the water gradually. This is what I advocate for my free PBL and virtual classroom site, http://Enterthegroup.com

Susan Riley's picture
Susan Riley
Arts Integration Specialist
Blogger

Love these ideas - I'm going to share them with our tech teacher. So often, the tech teachers or people who are providing the PD are so familiar with the technology that they zoom right through teaching the "how" and the "why" of the PD. I find that this really frustrates teachers for whom the technology is new. Teachers need PD that goes step-by-step through the process, allows for wait time and play time, and then individualized follow up. This should be familiar, because this is exactly what we do when we teach our students! Thanks for sharing such a great model for adult-learning PD!

Sarah's picture

Mary Beth,

I love how you start your post with, "Of all the initiatives a school can begin, integrating technology may require the most professional development." I like this because I think too often administrators set up a few hours of professional development to integrate technology and think that teachers magically know everything about the new piece of digital media.

I love this blog because as an author, you have stated what many other teachers are feeling, but are afraid to say. Quite often veteran teachers who have had little to no experience with integrating technology are afraid to speak up when it comes to professional development sessions dealing with technology.

I think this would be a great post to share with our school administrator because we are currently implementing smart boards into all of our classrooms. I think at times our district administrators just assume that one day of professional development cures all fears and teaches our teachers everything they need to know. They often assume that they will send us off and boom, we are ready to integrate it with excellence.

I have heard of some districts beginning to invite students to some of their technology professional development sessions to aid teachers in the process. How do you feel about integrating students into professional development?

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

I love the idea, Sarah! It can be a powerful experience for a teacher to hear about how students learn and use technology. Even more powerful is learning with kids as the experts. It prepares teachers for that vital shift of not being the expert on everything.

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

As a tech teacher & PD provider, I am very aware of how easy it is to rush through things, Susan. I try to remember that my teachers are no different from my students in that they need proper pacing, big picture and they need to be treated as learners, even if they are struggling.

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

Yes, sometimes teachers are not ready to jump off the board into the deep end. They need to test the waters, first!

Christine Ruetenik's picture
Christine Ruetenik
computer teacher Grades 4-7

I like the chart Mary Beth. I have only taught teachers in my district once, but it went very well. The topic was Numbers Application on Apple MacBooks. I am glad "allow teachers to voice their fears and apprehensions about using tech" is on the chart and I will even discuss this the next time I teach the teachers.
Also, "check in with techers over the next few weeks to see how their efforts are going" is a great idea. This way I will know if they were able to apply the Numbers application instruction to a lesson plan for students in their particular grade level.
Thanks for sharing your chart.

Charlie's Desk's picture
Charlie's Desk
Elementary School Computer Lab Teacher

I would add one to the "Don't List". Don't do tech integration by shoving 30 to 60 staff in a computer lab with one instructor "talking at them".

Rock On!
Charlie

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

Agreed! We wouldn't expect kids to learn that way, so why do we think adults can?

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

Agreed! We wouldn't expect kids to learn that way, so why do we think adults can?

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