For K–12 schools implementing new classroom tools, professional development is crucial to guaranteeing that both teachers and students make the most of such investments.
A recent PwC report notes that of 2,000 K–12 teachers surveyed, only 10 percent reported feeling secure in their ability to incorporate “higher-level” technology into their classrooms, highlighting a need for quality training programs to develop teachers’ skills with emerging tech.
Getting teachers up to speed on how to effectively teach with technology isn’t just about teaching them how to use tech tools, however.
Any professional development plan needs to focus on encouraging and enabling a basic and sustained change in how teachers view teaching and learning, says Amy Valentine, executive director of the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning.
Three Steps to a Successful Technology Integration Plan
While many teachers may not be confident in their current technological abilities, surveys have found there is a large desire to improve.
According to PwC, some of the most commonly used emerging technologies are also some of the ones teachers are the least prepared for. Only 17 percent of teachers were confident in their web design abilities, 12 percent reported having the skills necessary to use and teach with robotics, 11 percent reported being proficient with data analytics or graphic design and 8 percent were familiar with computer programming.
For administrators, this means creating lesson plans for teachers that will ultimately open the door for educators to creatively, and independently, take advantage of the new digital tools at their disposal.
To enable this paradigm shift, experts and practitioners recommend the following best practices:
- Have a clear vision. Having a solid plan in place will not only help teachers absorb and retain their training, but will also make it easier for administrators to create plans that will use what time and resources they have efficiently. “From the start, there needs to be strong instructional leadership and alignment to teaching and learning so that it’s standards-based,” says Rebekah Kim, executive director of teaching, learning and leadership at Highline Public Schools. “It cannot be a one-off or it will be just another fad that won’t be implemented in a sustainable way.”
- Prioritize professional development. School leaders should approach development as a preliminary part of their technology integration in order to ensure their technology investments are worthwhile. “Schools need to figure out a robust professional development plan and how they’re going to support teachers before they try to decide what device they’re going to use,” says Sarah Trimble-Oliver, CIO for Cincinnati Public Schools.
- Let teachers lead the way. Just as strong classroom engagement can have a positive impact on student outcomes, getting teachers involved in their own learning can help motivate them to put in the work to become technology masters. “If you can find teachers who are willing to jump in with both feet and have them lead the blended-learning revolution, you’re more likely to get full teacher buy-in and excitement about trying something new and making the investment in time and effort to make it happen,” says Joshua Miranda, blended and online learning coordinator at Argosy Collegiate Charter School.
For more on investing in professional development, check out "Add a Dash of Professional Development to Your Blended-Learning Program"