Teacher Needs:
The Reluctant, the Receptive, and the Revved Up
 
In implementing your technology program, teachers must be at the core. You'll find that teachers have a wide range of skills. Early adopters have been using technology for years, while others are hoping to retire without ever using technology in their classroom. This wide range of teacher attitudes and skills makes developing professional development opportunities difficult.
 
You'll need to address the needs of three types of teachers: reluctant, receptive, and revved up.
 
LumberJack Wisdom
Win reluctant teachers.
If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his true friend. Next, probe to discover what he wants to accomplish. - Abraham Lincoln
 
Lumberjack Menu
Administrator's Role
Technology Obstacles
Teacher Needs
Implementation
Eduscapes
 
Reluctant Teachers
In the past, you might have overlooked the reluctant teachers. However now that technology has become an integral part of our schools, technology skills are critical. As yourself. Are these reluctant teachers really anti-technology or just caught up in the culture? Are they worth the hassle? Yes! The "logs" are jamming the river. In other words, the reluctant teachers may be blocking the path of your school.
 
Try linking technology to a teacher's teaching style. In other words, a lecturer might be drawn to technology by adding visuals to presentations. For example, give than some website with rich visuals such as the Anatomy site. A teacher who likes to have group discussions might enjoy using epals. They might be interested in the epals website. Online quizzes might draw in a teacher who likes testing. They might enjoy FunBrain. The key is linking the technology activities to the curriculum. Give them something you know they can use. Match the activities to required outcomes. Then, provide models that work. Use Science Net Links as a starting point. This website provides standards-aligned activities on topics such as the environment. The lessons link to useful web resources such as the National Park Service's Everglades website.
 
LumberJack Wisdom
Keep it simple.
The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
 
The key is the first shot.
You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. - Wayne Gretzky
 
Create a supportive environment.
Progress always involves risk.  You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first. - Fredrick B. Wilcox
 
Find what motivates.
It is not the horse that draws the cart, but the oats. - Russian proverb
 
Reluctant teachers need cheerleaders.
Find the good &emdash; and praise it. - Alex Haley
Start with something simple like checking the weather, using weather photos, learning weather folklore, reading an online article, sending an electronic postcard, starting a gradebook, or using a CD-ROM encyclopedia. Eliminate risk by providing packaged, tested ideas. For example, start with a simple website such as Canadian Geography. Give teachers time to explore and work as a team. Be sure that on-site technical support is available to provide support. Make technology standard practice. In other words, technology should become a part of teaching evaluation and lesson evaluation. If email is the only way to submit grades or get meeting notices, then teachers will be forced to learn. Find out what motivates your teachers and provide rewards. People who attend the workshop might receive a book and piece of software, a digital camera, lots of examples and models, along with release time for planning. One school has posted lots of projects based on the software package Inspiration. Teachers can explore examples such as one on a trip to the zoo to get ideas for their classroom. Motivating reluctant teachers isn't easy. Ask yourself: What are the characteristics of your most reluctant teachers? Then, create a continuum leading you to the opposite behavior. How can you move your teachers along the continuum?
 
Receptive Teachers
In most schools, a majority of teachers are receptive to technology, they just haven't embraced technology. They know the tools. Ask yourself. How do you lead them down the right path? This first step is to create a learning culture in your school. Ask yourself: Are teachers viewed as learners? How is learning encouraged? What opportunities do teachers have for their own learning? Is learning rewarded?
 
LumberJack Wisdom
Focus on the challenge.
Never tell people how to do things.  Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. - George Patton
 
Rally your teachers together.
Leadership is the ability to encourage the best efforts of others in working toward a desirable goal. - Spencer W. Kimball
Professional development plans are at the core of successful technology programs. You need to identify the needs of each teacher. Make resources available and encourage teachers to try new skills. Create new ways for teachers to journal their experiences and share their progress. This approach requires learning pathways. Teachers need professional development choices and varied opportunities. They need to explore the possibilities before jumping into a project. The CATC by the Water is an excellent example of addressing the individual needs of teachers.
 
Learning Field Trips. Teachers need opportunities to go on real or virtual classroom visits within the building, in the district,
in the area, or at conferences. You might even be able to go on virtual visits by exploring teacher websites such as these Teacher 1 and Teacher 2.
 
Learning Lines. Teachers need real-time support. Consider putting in place phone help lines, creating listservs, and email support groups. Many teachers use existing online support services such as Proteacher.
 
Learning Coaches. Many times teachers can share their expertise with others. For example, each teacher in the building might volunteer to learn a different piece of equipment such as the scanner or software package such as Excel. They can then become a coach as others need help. You might also form teams with compatible skills for example a content area person with a person who has an interest in developing web pages. Students might even team with teachers as in the rock collection example.
 
Learning Titans. Students love technology. Student groups and clubs are excellent experiences for both students and teachers. Sometimes schools call student workers TITANS (Technology in Teaching and Networked Students). Students can be problem solvers and troubleshooters.
 
Learning Opportunities. Provide learning opportunities for receptive teachers such as distance learning options, web-based tutorials, as well as traditional staff development opportunities. You can find many online tutorial opportunities.
 
Learning Bursts. Some of the best opportunities for teacher learning comes at the teachable moment when a teacher has a specific need to know something. It might be a special day of the month or week. Many teachers become interested in online project with the Iditarod in the spring. Others find a specific need when they find out that their grandchild's picture has been sent to them as an attachment. Make use of these teachable moments.
 
Learning Swap Meets. Help teachers move theory into practice with periodic swap meets where teachers are asked to turn ideas into innovations. These can take the form of techie retreats, learning playgrounds, or just opportunities for teaming and sharing. Check out this Arkansas project as an example of online sharing.
 
LumberJack Wisdom
Encourage new ideas.
The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. - Dr. Linus Pauling
 
Empower teachers through technology.
As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. - Bill Gates
Revved Up Teachers
It's wonderful to have a group of revved up teachers who are already doing cool things with technology. Ask yourself: How do we keep them on track? How do we use them as models? The iCATS project uses classroom teachers as Curriculum and Technology Specialists. They work with classroom teachers to develop technology-rich projects. Share the expertise of your "revved teachers" by sharing their web pages and step-by-step presentations with others. Use Teacher Tap for ideas. Use revved teachers to get other teachers motivated to use technology. This may involve teaching these leaders to be mentors, focusing on the curriculum, and providing mentors with incentives. It's also important to rest your leaders and let new leaders emerge.
 

Lumberjack Menu
Administrator's Role
Technology Obstacles
Teacher Needs
Implementation
Eduscapes


Created by Annette Lamb, 02/01.