My colleagues and I have been having many discussions recently about the need for training for administrators concerning technology integration. That question came to the forefront again for me on Twitter and led to a good discussion there as well. I have no doubt the administrators I work with are all about technology integration on their campus. I feel safe in saying our school district is well ahead of most in terms of amount of equipment and the integration of that equipment. My concern now is that money is spent for the right products, and we are using those products to the best of our abilities to improve instruction and our students’ education.
In my mind it all comes down to expectations…”What gets monitored, gets done.” Administrators are turning the corner on evaluations. Using a PowerPoint is no longer being accepted as technology integration. Integration also means interaction. Students must be actively involved with the technology, not just sitting idly while the teacher interacts with it. This entails a HUGE paradigm shift. How do you put this type of action in motion without sending everyone over the edge?
The first step has to be made by the specialists. Administrators needs to see what this should look like. We are beginning to create training that will allow administrators a chance to experience integration in action and then give them a chance to discuss with each other what makes it effective. If they were evaluating the lesson, what qualities stand out for them? Where is their campus at now? What do their teachers need to be successful? Is it equipment? Training? Both? From this, they can start making a plan.
The second step is for administrators to model what they expect to see. Staff meetings/Professional Development should not be 30-45 minutes of talking in front of a slide show. We are expecting more from our teachers, shouldn’t they expect more from us? Use the flipped classroom approach. Flip some of the meeting to allow more time for interaction when you are all together.
I know the first thing out of everyone’s mouth is, “I don’t have time.” I will fire back…teachers don’t have time for anything else either, but somehow everything that gets pushed on them to do gets done, no exceptions. We should NEVER place expectations on someone that we could not do ourselves. Administrators unite! Use your time wisely. Don’t re-create the wheel. Divide and conquer! (any more slogans I can throw in there?) As you create great trainings for your staff share them with your colleagues. Collaborate to create a great bank of professional development for each other.
I would like to see this go even further…you should create a lesson plan for your meetings/professional development. This gets you back to understanding what the staff is going through every day…every week. Model to teachers a Project Based Learning activity for your meeting. Get the teachers up and moving. Let them experience from the student side what an integrated lesson feels like.
Have teachers evaluate your lesson when you are done. How powerful would that be? Naturally, they will compare the lessons they are doing with yours. Your teachers experience what you do and vice versa. You both feel the pressure and in turn both walk away with a better understanding of each other. This will open eyes to where they are, as educators, and where they need to go.
Once you have started to establish expectations, step 3 is to put the plan in motion. As much as we would like it to, we all know this shift cannot happen overnight. Be sure your plan allows time for understanding and growth. Look for baby steps at first. Praise a lot while offering suggestions as to where they can migrate to next. Build from lesson to lesson, week to week, year to year. Nobody said this would be easy for anyone. Remember road blocks will be in place. Work as a team to find a way around or through them. Succeed, fail, and grow together.