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
- Differentiate based on teachers' grade levels and curricular needs.
- Focus on instruction and learning.
- Allow teachers to voice their fears and apprehensions about using tech.
- Give time for teachers to tinker with tools or software and use them to create their own project.
- Check in with teachers over the next few weeks to see how their efforts to implement technology are going.
- 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.
- Introduce the same tool to all of your teachers and expect them to use it the same way.
- Focus on the tool.
- Belittle teachers who are wary of bringing tech into their classrooms.
- Show teachers a tool and expect them to be able to use it without practice.
- Expect teachers to be able to start integrating tech based on a one-day PD experience.
- 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.