Wednesday, September 2, 2009

10 Tips for Teaching Technology to Teachers

I have been working with teachers to learn to integrate technology into their teaching for almost ten years. Here are a few of the things I have learned - in no particular order (number 10 is probably the most important).

Please share your thoughts and suggestions!

1. It isn't really about the tool it is about how you use it: It isn't the word processing software, it's the skills and usefulness of word processing. It isn't the presentation software, it's how to create a meaningful and effective presentation.

2. Differentiate: Provide lots of different avenues for teachers to learn. Create visual handouts, offer group training, create video screencasts and provide one-on-one instruction.

3. Don't be the only teacher: Encourage teachers to work together and coach each other. Get students involved, let the kids be the teachers and provide opportunities for them to help their teachers out.

4. Ask lots of questions: If you are working one-on-one or with a small group try to get to the pedagogical goal for the tool.

5. Enlist your PLN: Reach out to your PLN for support and ideas, read blogs, follow folks on Twitter, ask questions, share your frustrations.

6. Remember there is great teaching without technology: There are many ways to teach and many great lessons that do not use technology. Respect the expertise of your colleagues.

7. Acknowledge your teachers' anxiety and expertise: When I'm working with a teacher who is having a hard time with something I find easy, I always remind myself of all of the things that person knows how to do that I don't know how to do. Teachers are not used to not knowing, looking "dumb" or feeling out of control. I often hear teachers tell me "I'm bad at this." Remind them how they respond when their students tell them they are bad at something. They aren't bad at it, they just haven't learned how to do it yet.

8. Start with the early adopters: If you are new to a school and are trying to make change, start with the easy folks, the ones who want your help. Once they are successful, word will spread and you will be able to get to some of the more resistant teachers. Don't beat yourself up about the hardcore resisters. There are some people that you just can't change - see number 6.

9. Observe your colleagues: If you can, try to get in and observe classes at your school. Go in without an agenda, just watch your colleagues teach. You will gain a greater appreciation for their skills, it will give you some ideas of ways you can support them and you will get to know them a little better. This is also really fun to do.

10. Don't touch the mouse: Tie your arm behind your back if you have to, but try not to take over mousing for your teachers. This is one of the hardest things for me to do, but also one of the most important. When people mouse they learn to do things themselves, when I do it for them they learn to watch me do it.
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