Many school districts spend thousands of dollars on technology without consulting with teachers or coming up with a clear plan. This is a huge mistake that we see many districts make. We have conducted anonymous surveys of around 3000 teachers last year. Through our research, we have found that the number one complaint from the surveys was that teachers felt like they did not receive enough training on how to use technology in the classroom. Involving teachers more in the planning process and providing more effective teacher training are easy fixes for this problem.
Technology is proven to keep students more engaged in comparison to a traditional classroom setting. With that being said, it is important that the teachers believe that the technology adds something extra to the curriculum. We recognize that some teachers prefer not to use technology. This unwillingness can stem from lack of exposure or lack of understanding. Teacher training on technology could resolve any feelings of reluctance.
A good starting point is ensuring that both teachers and administrators understand how each grade level benefits from technology. For example, a class of kindergartners may not need a class set of Chromebooks as much as older grade levels. Some devices are better suited for different age groups, which is why a plan on what devices go to each classroom needs to be established.
It is also important for teachers to evaluate their comfort level with the school technology. If the teacher does not feel comfortable, the students will most likely sense that something is off. For example, if a teacher has experienced technical difficulties in the past, or struggled when the technology was not working as planned, it can be discouraging. Teachers need to feel confident and in control of the situation. It is crucial that teachers ask questions or ask for more training if necessary.
School districts need to make teacher training a priority. A quick two hour training session at the beginning of the semester usually doesn’t cut it. Training is not always mandatory, and some teachers choose to not show up. A mandatory session for all teachers would eliminate this issue.
Just like students learn at difference paces, the same can be said for teachers. It is important to realize that a set program for everyone is not always the most effective method. Many teachers feel like technology is thrown at them at the start of the school year, and do not know how to integrate it into their lesson plan. Showing them real-life examples can help. It is proven that having an instructor present in the classroom working with teachers on a regular school day is one of the only successful approaches.
Technology in the classroom on its own is not what makes it successful. Instead, it is how the teachers incorporate it into the curriculum. Therefore, we believe that enhanced training is the secret that will make students learn better with technology than ever before.