Whether you’re an administrator looking to add more technology to your organization, or a teacher leading the tech charge in your school, helping other teachers get up to speed can be difficult. It’s even more difficult during the back to school season, with increased teacher stress levels and young teachers starting their first years of instruction.
It is important to remember that technology is a tool, not a subject. The P21 framework (Partnership for 21st Century Learning) indicates “information, media, and technology skills” as only 1 of the 4 areas of 21st-century skills. Encouraging the use of technology by your teachers should be focused both on classroom instruction, and improving their daily workflow. One of the most significant daily workflow improvements comes from data backed decision making.
Data and analytics
Many people incorrectly assume that saving time is the greatest value that they can gain from technology. However, the true value of edtech – the thing that you should be looking for in every tool added to your school or district – is the data that it can uncover.
Great teachers are constantly looking for ways to improve their instruction. The analytics collected by educational technology can help them determine which instructional methods worked particularly well, or identify specific students who are struggling with a concept. Providing teachers with an understanding of the power of technology can give them significant motivation to get started!
Overcoming the fear of failure
Everyone has a fear of failure. This can translate to technology, as the fear of breaking something expensive. Or doing something that will destroy precious records.
It’s unlikely that anyone would go through life without experiencing some kind of failure. But, the wonderful thing about failure is that it’s entirely up to them to decide how to look at it.Teachers can choose to see failure as “the end of the world,” or, they can look at failure as the incredible learning experience that it often is.
Encourage teachers to make Google and Youtube their new best friends. It’s almost guaranteed that someone else has had the same question that they have about the tech. They can also contact the vendor’s customer support to ask more specific questions about a product.
Get to know the people behind the tech
Another major reason that people tend to avoid technology is its lack of humanity. Interacting with a computer is significantly different from interacting with a person.
It may be helpful to provide your teachers with opportunities to get to know the people behind the tech. The easiest way to do this is by attending conferences with exhibitor halls. This gives teachers the chance to meet people who work in edtech every day and learn from other teachers successfully using technology. You can even gamify this activity (more on that in the next section)!
Gamify your professional development
For most teachers, professional development is seen as a necessary evil. Something that they are required to attend, but not particularly engaged in. The information goes in one ear and out the other.
You can change this by gamifying your professional development. Give “PD points” for attending sessions, or participating in activities like conferences or Twitter chats. Teachers collect points and can trade them in for different perks. This could include something like a classroom iPad, or an extra day of vacation.
Empower teachers to learn from their peers
There are undoubtedly other teachers in your school who have already integrated technology into their lives. Teachers respond better to teachers who share their situation. Take advantage of these early adopters by organizing teacher-led professional development sessions, or form professional learning communities (PLCs). Also, have them tap into their larger network or even the global network. Social media is for more than just finding cat pictures.
Teachers can also learn a lot from their students. They may feel uncomfortable asking for help from their students, but remind them that they are not less than because they don’t know something – they still have a lot of knowledge and experience to pass along to their students.
Support them at every step of the way
Learning from others is not always enough. Teachers need to know that they have support from other teachers, as well as administration, in their attempts to add technology into their workflow and classroom.
You’ll see the most success with technology if you remember that teachers should be rewarded for using it – not punished if they don’t. Give each teacher credit when they figure out something new!
New technology may seem exciting, but it can be very intimidating to some teachers. With all the tools out there, it can seem chaotic and almost impossible to sift through the noise. You may even find that it’s the best educators in your school who struggle the most with adding technology into their work!
With your support, teachers can take their first steps to becoming fluent in technology, leading to better education for every student in your school!
What techniques have you used to empower teachers to become more tech savvy? Let us know in the comments!