How to embed technology on the fringes of education into the classroom.
Part of my current role is not just to introduce technology to teachers, but to show how to embed that technology so it makes a real difference to all the members of a classroom. Here are some of my tips.
To begin with, forget the technology, and focus on what the teacher already does well. This could be demos that they create; it could be how they record student progress; it could be the actual teaching and learning material; it could be the department budget or curriculum planning.
Then, look at what they think they could improve on. They may feel that they need guidance on how to make sure that all students have equal access to resources, or how to save time, or how to engage all the parents with their child’s progress. Chances are, the teacher will already know what they need, and once these factors have been identified, it makes it so much easier to make the right recommendations.
Any suggestions made must improve at least one of the things that have been identified. Not only will the teacher appreciate this, but it also means that your suggestion has a better chance of succeeding, as it will offer an actual improvement that the teacher themselves has identified.
The next thing I advise to a teacher is that any new resource must first be practiced – but not necessarily in front of their class. So, if a teacher is exploring a new online presentation creator, they shouldn’t feel the need to share it with their class until she is ready. Here, confidence is the key to success, so make sure that teachers do not feel any additional pressure. This is true for experienced teachers, as well as those that are new to technology. It is also wise for them to set themselves a deadline, so that the teacher is encouraged to become familiar with the resource sooner rather than later. And if possible, tie it all in with some real purpose and target one of their aspirational goals. You could also make sure that it ties in with an upcoming lesson and ensure that any use of technology has a valid reason behind it.
Some staff prefer to learn about a resource with a fellow colleague, and this is a great idea. Not only will they feel supported, as opposed to feeling isolated, but they will have someone else who is in the same situation, and willing to bounce ideas off. They will be able to discuss solutions, applications, and alternatives. They will comfortable, and confident to try these new ideas.
Make sure that staff know where to get support from. The more personal and close that support is, the better. Teachers who prefer a lot of help may find support in the form of their in-school ict coordinator. The coordinator, in need of less help, may have support via email from an external source.
For me, the key idea between any kind of support or resource is making sure that it is relevant to the teacher. Making it personal and meaningful will show that you understand their needs, and that the resource really make an improvement.
I am always looking for better ways to encourage a school’s use of technology in the classroom. I’d love to hear about the things that did (and didn’t) work – please leave your experiences below.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Johan Larsson