Beginning a new school year can be both exciting and challenging. Teachers and educational leaders are faced with educating students who often are more technologically savvy than they are. To be an effective 21st-century educator, teachers and leaders must embrace technology in a collegial and collaborative matter.
To that end, there are many things that can be done to prepare schools to engage their students in innovative ways.
1. Make Sure Faculty Knows How Students Think
Most K–12 students have grown up with technology and know how to navigate the internet. These students are acclimated to having information at their fingertips and can communicate very effectively through technological means.
Educational leaders must create an environment at the building level where teachers are trained and empowered to incorporate technology into all their endeavors when applicable. The beginning of the school year is a good time to set the parameters for such an approach.
Further, as the school climate is often dictated from the top, a leader must believe in technology and motivate faculty to do the same.
2. Connect Education Technology to Teacher Evaluation
Since many states require teachers to portray effectiveness through a choice of teacher evaluation models, school leaders should work with teachers to integrate evaluation and instructional technology.
An evaluation should be a platform of productivity, rather than a punitive exercise. Incorporating technology into evaluations allows teachers to think outside the box to align their lessons to how students learn.
3. Use a Research-Based Technology Model
The SAMR model is an excellent way to infuse technology in the classroom through higher-order thinking skills.
SAMR is a hierarchy of approaches to tech adoption that includes substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition. The model helps teachers incorporate technology into the classroom, rather than just use it as a tool.
By infusing technology within the educational program, teachers can create new knowledge and seek new goals.
As we enter the current school year, digital leaders have the capacity to transform their schools or programs. To accomplish this, they must embrace technology themselves and be able to motivate others to do the same. These leaders must also tie technology to teacher effectiveness by promoting the use of a model like SAMR.
Finally, though the SAMR model can positively influence any educational program, there are other models that may be just as effective.
Instructional leaders should find the model that best fits their school or educational program. However, one thing that is certain is that we must embrace technology to successfully prepare today’s students for 21st-century college or career options.