As school systems are looking to increase the student usage of technology in the classroom, administrators may be presented with a precarious situation. The balance of funding effective professional development while retaining the appropriate resources to purchase the technology can be challenging. Even if the devices are purchased and available, some teachers can still feel overwhelmed with how to integrate the technology effectively.
Creating a shared vision of tech integration among the staff is vital for cultivating a digital learning environment that permeates beyond the classroom.
Host a Digital "Back to School Teacher Night"
Instead of just sending out a welcome back email to your staff, think about hosting a Google Chat or Twitter LiveChat with your staff members before the start of the school year. You could use these tools to obtain feedback about upcoming school initiatives or to just foster teamwork throughout the building.
School administrators could collaborate and compare the needs of their respective staff members. This practice could be used to target professional development needs for a school feeder pattern or throughout a district or region. As an administrator, using online communication tools effectively may inspire your staff to build their own online presence for their students.
Collaborative Mind Maps
Communication and collaboration with colleagues can be a very powerful method for generating ideas, solving problems, or just sharing information. With the appropriate digital tools, groups can brainstorm ideas online anywhere, any time. I've used Google Drive in concert with MindMeister to collaborate with other educators from around Maryland on recent projects.
MindMeister is a great tool that allows participants to create brainstorm maps and assign tasks using the embedded task widget. It allows members to monitor task completion and provide feedback in real time. This could be an effective tool when focusing on the needs of staff members.
Set Realistic, Attainable Goals
The majority of teachers that I talk with about incorporating technology tell me that they don't know where to begin. They are astounded -- and intimidated -- by the thousands of apps, websites, and digital resources available to them.
I believe it is beneficial, especially for your non-techy teachers, to create realistic individual goals. Create a Google Form and ask your staff to answer a few questions about technology:
- How comfortable do they feel using technology?
- Do they need additional support for what they're currently using?
- What is their vision for using technology in the classroom?
Identify those areas of need, and use them to drive future professional development.
Keep Staff Informed and Updated
Effective administrators know how, when, and where to share information with their staff. Instead of waiting until the next staff meeting to celebrate something great that one of your teachers did, use the school's Twitter account to share with the community. Celebrate reaching one of the goals set by the staff earlier in the school year. Showing follow-up on the goals created from staff input could be done using a variety of programs including Twitter, Remind (formerly Remind 101), Edmodo, and Google Drive. Valuing staff input will also increase collaboration and trust in your abilities as a digital leader within your school.
I’ve detailed a few examples for staff input using the SAMR model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition):
- Email ideas.
- Submit feedback and ideas using Google Forms.
- Use Poll Everywhere to receive input from staff.
- Share a Google Form spreadsheet and use comments to generate discussion.
- Use Google Chat for digital communication.