Tech Training: Education is a Team Sport

DESCRIPTION: Getting teachers to embrace and integrate technology tools requires more than just mandatory in-service trainings. It involves listening, building relationships, team teaching, and mentoring. Learn some techniques and strategies that help teachers focus on learning goals and provide "just-in-time" technology training. As teachers learn to develop lessons and projects that integrate various tech tools, they become more familiar with the tools and become subject matter experts, mentoring and supporting others.

POLS Attendees: CLICK HERE for resources.

All-staff tech in-services do not work. Why? ("If I Die..." image from Doug Johnson. "A Teacher's Prayer")
  • Teachers need differentiated instruction too. (Probably more than the students)
  • Different tools will "click" with different teachers according to their personality & teaching style.

What Does Work?
Here are six steps that seem to work well for me as a tech guy trying to get teachers to integrate tech into their teaching.

LISTEN - When you listen, you learn that...
  • Teachers are likely not to share my passion for technology.
  • Their passions lie elsewhere - their favorite subject, their students, their ???
  • By listening and validating their passions, you build trust - a necessary element if you want them to listen to your ideas.

Teacher Myth #1: "My textbook is my curriculum" - Once you've gained their trust you can help them focus on WHAT they teach. Help them realize their textbook is not their curriculum, but just one of many possible resources.

Curriculum Mapping is Key
  • Know what they are expected to teach, and help them find the best resources/projects to teach it.
  • Help plan your training so that it is both relevant and timely.

TEACH - Training needs to be
  • small group - 1 to 5 people. Preferably same grade level or subject focused on a specific, clearly defined learning goal.
  • Short - 20 to 30 minutes. Teachers prep time is valuable. Respect that.
  • Flexible - adjust to their schedule. (I'm busiest before and after school.)
  • Produce a product - when you're done, they should have a lesson or project (and an evaluation rubric) that is ready to use and implement in their classroom next week. It may take several short sessions to achieve this.

Teacher Myth #2: "I must know the tool to use the tool." When it comes to technology tools, they don't have to know it inside and out. Just be aware of the basics to get their students started. Let the kids figure it out. They will. The teacher's job is to set the content requirements for the final product.

BE THERE - Teacher Myth #3: "I'm all alone out there." For a teacher's first attempt at a new lesson/project be there to provide...
  • Support - so they know they're not left hanging out to dry if something goes wrong.
  • Team Teaching - In some cases I step in to team teach with them. They present the content and their requirements, I teach the specifics of the tech tool.
  • Tutorial Videos - If I can't be there in person, I'll make tutorial videos for the teacher to play for the class (and themselves) before their kids come to the lab. Camtasia and Jing are great tools for screen captures.
  • Follow-Up Support - Meet with them after the lesson. Discuss how it went. What worked? What didn't? How can it be improved?

Teacher Myth #4: "If at first you don't succeed, give up." Rarely will something go perfect the first time. Sometimes it blows up in your face. That's okay. Let your kids see how you handle it. So many live in a world where failure is not an option. You can model how to turn a failure into a learning experience.

SHARE SUCCESS - Let fellow teachers see what you are doing. Share it with administrators and parents too.

  • Rushton Hurley ( shares that many teachers are doing great things but no one knows about it. Take 3-5 minutes out of each staff meeting and use it as "show & tell" time for teachers to share great technology integrating projects. This can generate enthusiasm among others.

MENTOR OTHERS - Identify "Subject Matter Experts" and let them mentor others. Sometimes teachers are actually less intimidated when learning from a fellow teacher rather than the tech guy. (Hard to believe!) Better yet, as teachers become more adept at using various technology tools, develop a network of subject matter experts at your school. Send others to them for help. Pretty soon you'll have a campus full of tech teachers!

NETWORK - Your subject matter experts don't have to be on your campus. The gift of web access means teachers can reach outside of their classroom and campus to other cities, states, and even countries for help. Start encouraging them to go to professional development workshops & conferences and make connections with other educators that share their passions.

  • Peer Coaching - In some schools districts, teachers are brought together to attend PD where they work together as a team to develop lessons and projects to take back with them to their classrooms. The team serves as both a resource and support. For more info, see my blog post "Morsels from NCCE"

Virtual Technology Teacher - by Jeremy Davis (who inspired me to screencast)
Animal Riddle Project - Tutorial videos. How to create an Animal Riddle with Microsoft PhotoStory 3.
Caution: Falling Rocks - by David Jakes. Don't ignore the "rocks" at your school.