It’s an expectation that every class at my school will have a blog by the end of this year. We thought it best to invite people to start when they are ready, offering individual support as required. We’re only three weeks into our school year and it’s exciting to note how many teachers already have blogs up and running, even if some are still at the stage of learning how to post. It was also great, during planning sessions last week, to hear several previously tech-resistant teachers suggesting ways to incorporate new tools to support learning. While we still have a long way to go before technology is seamlessly integrated into the learning throughout our primary school, it’s encouraging to realise how far we have come.
Here are some tips, based on our experience:
1. Start with two people.
Ideally you need a technology facilitator and another teacher whose focus is more on learning and pedagogy. That way, it’s never lonely when there’s resistance, there are complementary outlooks and more hands are available to help.
2. Invite volunteers.
Don’t try and force anyone to implement technology before they are ready. Work with a small group who’s willing to give it a go. Gradually others will come on board, when they see what’s been achieved by their peers or when their students initiate it. Don’t even think about presenting tech PD to large group of teachers all at once.
3. Offer plenty of support.
Once teachers have seen a tool demonstrated, they will need support practicing and applying it. Don’t be judgmental. Differentiate. Everyone can learn, but we all learn in different ways and at our own pace. It looks like this. Allow for it. Team teach. Offer to go into a class with a teacher who’s ready to give it a go. Demonstrate. Solve problems. Be there.
4. Aim for ‘just one thing’.
Don’t expect teachers to be experts. They just need to be willing. Make them aware of that. Aim to get teachers to try just one new thing. The concept is expressed really well here!
5. Get teachers teaching teachers.
Once teachers have used a tool to enhance learning in their classes, provide an opportunity for them to show others what they did. Have a show-and-tell session where ideas and examples are presented by teachers for teachers. Invite teachers to show others how to use tools they have already mastered.
6. Start from the learning.
This one is the most important. Tech for tech’s sake is a waste of time. Teachers are far more likely to integrate technology if they see the educational purpose. Begin with your learning goal, then plan your learning experiences and see what tools might support or enahnce the learning. See an example here.
7. Bring Admin onside.
If the heads are not leading the way themselves, invite them to training sessions. Invite them to classes. Show them what’s happening. Talk about what’s possible. Tell them what you need in order to move the school forward. Share examples from other schools. Share examples from yours.
8. Involve the students.
Teachers don’t need to know how to do everything. Kids will readily and enthusiastically help both the teacher and each other. Encourage teachers to release control to their students and become learners themselves. Here’s one teacher’s take on it.
Create a wiki for teachers to refer back to. Add the tools they have learned. Include examples of how the tools can be used for learning. Add written instructions to which they can refer back if they are stuck. This is our wiki, maintained by the inimitable Linda (@lindawollan)
10. Be persistent.
Never miss an opportunity to suggest a way in which technology could enhance the learning. Offer to take care of the tech side yourself, if it means teachers will try something new in their teaching. Never, ever give up.