Here are five professional development strategies that work in the smart K-12 classroom.
It's not enough to fill K-12 classrooms with technology and hope that teachers will embrace the new tools and integrate them into their daily lessons. In fact, if there's one thing that districts have learned during this information age it's this: Without adequate support and motivation educators will retreat to their old ways of teaching.
The good news is that technology-oriented professional development tools and processes have emerged almost as quickly as the equipment, software, and applications themselves have. Whether the programs are created and managed in-house, supplied by product vendors, or handled by third parties, professional development is both accessible and affordable.
Here are five strategies that schools and districts can use to ramp up their own smart classroom professional development programs:
Develop a multifaceted training model for teachers.
Kimberly Race has seen more than one dust bunny form under dormant IT equipment at Western Heights School District in Oklahoma City.
"We were installing equipment and training the teachers ourselves, but the teachers weren't using the tools in their classrooms," said Race, director of instruction. "We spent a lot of money on machines that sat and gathered dust."
Historically the district conducted a one-day session where teachers were trained on how to use the technology. To beef up that program Race and her team worked together with the school's IT department to develop a district-wide training model. It was broken up into four sessions that were two to three hours long and centered on a specific piece of technology (such as a smart board or class responder system). The sessions comprised live lectures, Q&A sessions, online videos, homework assignments, and even tests that teachers had to take before proceeding to the next segment.
"We hit it from all angles," said Race, who said she's seen improved technology adoption by teachers since implementing the program. "The combination approach is working very well."
Make the technology the incentive.
Before Western Heights School District handed out Mobi mobile interactive whiteboards to teachers the latter had to sign up for and attend at least one related training session. During the training teachers learned how to use the technology, which allows them to operate their screens while moving around their classrooms. The training was handled by a technology coordinator who used live video streaming and other tools to demonstrate the whiteboards' usefulness in the classroom.
"If the teachers didn't attend, they didn't get their Mobis," said Race. "We had a 99.9 percent turnout for that session."
Take teachers out of their comfort zones.
Sometimes you have to treat teachers like students to get them to use technology effectively.
At Westville Community District II in Westville, IL, new technology initiatives always include ample professional development. That training typically finds teachers pushing outside of their comfort zones to learn how to maximize the tools.
"We assign technology projects that ensure that our teachers know how to use the equipment for instruction," said Jim Owens, superintendent.
Recently the district equipped teachers with flip video cameras and asked them to show how the equipment could impact student achievement. It didn't take long for the open-ended project to cause frustration among the teachers.
"They didn't know what we were looking for or what the right answers were," recalled Owens. "But there was no right answer. We simply wanted them to use their creativity and find new ways to integrate the technology."
Source: The Journal
Read more: http://thejournal.com/articles/2012/03/14/getting-teachers-up-to-speed-with-technology.aspx
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