“Teacher tech training”: try saying that five times fast. Better yet, try doing that five times fast. Technology is ubiquitous, but in some places tech training for teachers is still living in the floppy-disk era.
District administrators and building leaders know that they need to commit time to professional development when they bring in new technology, but how that PD plays out can lack specific direction. Here are four of the best practices for teacher tech training that you can tailor to fit any district, school, department, or grade-level needs.
- Conduct a survey or other screening process to identify where your teachers are with technology, and what they want to get out of the PD.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, only 39% of teachers report moderate or frequent technology use in the classroom. That number could be even lower among your teachers. In order to plan tech PD that will actually serve your teachers’ needs, you will need to identify exactly what those pain points and goals are.
- Rely on teacher leaders and tech wunderkinds among your students for extra help and guidance.
Regional technology coordinator Sarah Thomas emphasizes the point that people enjoy talking with others, not being talked at. Calling on teacher leaders and tech-savvy students to participate in teaching technology to their peers at school will empower them and provide you with another powerful resource for expanding and improving your tech PD.
- Design each tech training session so that it is self-contained, giving teachers the flexibility to attend only those that are most relevant to their defined needs and goals.
Making all of your teachers sit through PD on how to create a PowerPoint is likely to make the ones who have been using that software for years get a little antsy. Like all PD, teacher tech training should be specific and targeted. Carve out sufficient time for each PD session, but also remember the value of offering short refresher courses. These give your teachers the opportunity to learn a wide variety of tech skills over time without overwhelming them.
- Get all of your administrators on board with the tech training.
Susan Poling, a technology coordinator for Shelby County Schools, and her team found that the 2,500 teachers under their tutelage were far more likely to participate in and benefit from tech PD if their principals and administrators were actively encouraging the process. This makes sense. Principals need to model behavior. It may be hard for a reluctant teacher to see the value in increasing tech skills if their principal is not much of a technology user. Teachers respond to those who will be evaluating them, and will make a more significant effort to meet expectations when those are clearly set.
Consistent professional development in technology needs to be backed up by a consistent teacher assessment process in those areas. One of the main pain points for teachers concerning both PD and teacher evaluations is that they aren’t sure exactly how or where they need to improve. Our infographic, The Impact of Consistency Between Evaluators, will guide you through increasing integrity and transparency to support your teachers’ professional growth.