Both administrators and teachers are busy.
(Phew, I got that out of the way.)
Many of the ideas we share in the edu-blogosphere revolve around new ideas (for education) and new practices. Embedding technology into the classroom no longer means making sure that students word process, do spreadsheets, and “do PowerPoint”.
Instead, we now want teachers to understand that best practice technology use should be “transformational” (Alan November’s word). The use of technology should be to do things we couldn’t do without a computer. Kids should be collaborating, communicating, and managing information in ways that simply weren’t possible before. Even using technology to provide efficiency to allow for greater depth of reflection and understanding is powerful.
We know this.
But teachers are busy. How can they begin to learn and know all of these practices? Who will “develop” their skills with technology and learning?
The tech folks? Sure, but it’s an uphill task and let’s not forget that “busy” thing. If teachers are expected to spend time developing their pedagogy involving technology one of two things need to happen:
- They get it. They see the need and they believe they need to learn it so that their students will learn.
- It needs to be made clear that this is valued by their administrators.
I wrote before about the need to get administrators on board with the necessary shift in education. This is important to school-wide change.
But administrators are busy too. How can they possibly keep up with best practice? They can’t know it all, but they can know enough to ensure that they are fostering positive professional growth in their faculty. Using their supervisory role as an opportunity to see what teachers are using technology for and sharing what they value by asking questions, teachers are more likely to reflect upon their use of technology and make changes with the help of their tech people.
I recently presented at the EARCOS administrator’s conference on this very idea. Titled, “Looking for Learning – How supervisors can foster best practice technology use,” I shared various best practice “things to look for” in how a teacher is using technology in their classroom. (I’d share the slides, but in doing it “presentation zen”, without the talking, they don’t read particularly well – a curse of “the zen”. I did include a handout on my presentation wiki, but forgot to tell my audience.)
The goal: give administrators enough knowledge to do more than check off a box that indicates whether a class was “using technology” or not.
Give them enough knowledge to ask reflection-provoking questions and professionally grow their faculty.
Photo by Stephen Poff
Here’s what I presented…
- Does desk layout foster collaboration (kids on computers are isolating enough)?
- Can a teacher move around and see all computers and all students?
- When the teachers wants attention, do they have students lower the lids (so simple, yet so under-used)?
- When students are working, is the teacher in front of the room only able to see the back of the laptops? (walking around checking on student understanding and work has ALWAYS been best practice)
- When beginning class with instructions and learning outcomes, are the teachers saving time by having their machines logging in?
After sharing these simple tips in how teachers use physical space and manage a class of students on laptops, I offered some key suggestions for what can be different with best practice use of technology.
Great pedagogy with technology can provide:
All ultimately leading to important learning.
I then shared several questions for that post-observation conference:
- In what ways did the technology enhance the learning?
- Who were the students’ audience? What feedback will they get?
- What other audiences, could enhance the learning?
- What technology skills did you expect students to have in order to be successful? Did they have them?
- What technology skills did you expect students to acquire if successful? Did they get them?
Equipped with these questions, administrators share the thinking that goes into best practice technology use. They encourage reflective pedagogy and consideration of what matters when selecting technology to enhance a lesson.
I hope it struck a chord. I hope it leads to better instruction and more importantly better learning.
I hope we all continue to professionally grow.
Would love to hear your thoughts.