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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.

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Paula Naugle's picture
Paula Naugle
4th grade math and SS teacher from New Orleans, LA.

Great advice, Mary Beth. Allowing time to play is very powerful and so in checking in with them later after they've had time to reflect on how best to integrate a tool into their lessons.

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger 2014

Thanks Paula. Taking time is necessary, but too often it is overlooked because of the pressure to move quickly towards new initiatives.

Icandel's picture

I totally agree with this. You shouldn't apply a "one size fits all' approach to professional development in the area of technology. I just read another blog post where the poster explains how one school purchased interactive whiteboards for all the teachers at a particular school. It seems that the teachers were not properly trained and were reluctant to use the boards which led to other problems from students. In the end a lack of respect for the technology on behalf of the teachers led to students vandalizing the boards and stealing the equipment for them. I'm sure a lot of this could have been avoided if the school had followed the above steps in order to prepare their teachers for the technology.

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