My next article for my newsletter series on "Teachers to IT Departments, you have 'XYZ' Homework" targets professional development.

This upcoming article focuses on what needs to be done, and targets the need for...

* Funding -- "tremendously more" amounts of money for resources...
- Resources -- time to implement, people, facilities
- Practice Time -- time to learn, release time,
- Equipment -- Especially equipment to take home
- Follow-Up -- "One off" training have little in common with professional development needs
* Focus on Instruction -- Software only training seldom generalized to application in classroom instruction
* Benefit to Students -- With minimal access to equipment and teacher less knowledgeable about how to use the equipment,
* Change of Teaching Style -- The Integration of Technology requires a "whole 'nuther teaching style
* Practice Time -- Teachers can't just listen and be expected to do
* Trainers who have Applied what they Teach -- Trainers with experience delivering Integrated Lessons in front of students
* Empowerment -- For both teachers and students

Does anyone wish to play "devil's advocate" and claim that current professional development trends lead to a return on our technology investment?

I believe that just doing more of what we have been doing has a "snowball's chance in the devil's back yard" of producing the benefits that our huge investment in technology and infrastructure could have provided (had we conducted professional development according to sound methods of adult learning), and had we made reasonable predictions about what was required to pull this revamping of instruction off.

I'll be glad to publish your responses. Publication date is 6-30-07.

Any takers?

Tags: development, needs, professional, real-world, requirements

Views: 50

Replies to This Discussion

I agree with your list, but somewhere in there should be the idea of teacher practices supported by some kind of professional learning community, that is supported by Technology Leadership which is in my opinion imperative in order for these things to occur. I can’t tell you, if there is no leadership all the way down to the district office and the building principal, there isn’t a lot of chance for these kinds of things to happen in the classroom.
You are correct. Actually, the chain of leadership should be at the top of the list. But, teachers have little influence on making changes or improving that chain of leadership.

I have focused (in my newsletter and Website) on the things that teachers can do, and the things that teachers can control.

My mentioning school system problems is to remind teachers that many of the issues they face are not "teachers' fault."

Your pointing out that teachers need a professional learning community for support reflects this "not teachers' fault" issue. But, the learning community needs to "tell it like it is." So many teachers fear for their jobs and feel that they must remain silent. And some school district "leaders" go after teachers for the comments that they write online, too.

The other tendency of these less than supportive "leaders" seems to be to devise ways to "spin" the blame, and place the responsibility on the backs of teachers. It's the teacher's job to integrate technology, whether we fund the equipment or not, whether we provide training or not, whether the decrepit and outdated stuff works, etc.

Still, it is a blessing and a privilege to teach. And, teachers put up with a lot for the sake of children, and for the warm-fuzzy joy and rewards of the classroom. One reason that teaching seems like a "solitary" occupation is that teachers often try to block out the "craziness" of the "leadership" that surrounds them, and just do the best job for their students that they can.
I agree with you completely. I schedule bi-weekly meetings with each of my building's teachers. The first time I am in the building is to introduce something new. The second scheduled visit is a follow-up/question and answer session. I also schedule one on one time with teachers when possible. I plan on taking this plan one step furhter. Each Wednesday, after school, a technology staff person will host a "Topic of the Week" lesson. This is to provide opportunities for teachers and other staff members to participate in different technology presentations. I eventually want to take this same concept and develop a professional development schedule where teachers participate in a certain number of session and then integrate them into their classrooms. Once they have integrated the sessions and have been evaluated, the district would provide two or three options for a new technology purchase to be used in their classroom. This type of program, hopefully, will lead to my teachers being more advanced in technology integration and meet standards stipulated by the State of Kansas as well as ISTE and other technology organizations.

However, here are some of the issues or complaints I hear most from my teachers:
1. Why should I give up my planning time for this?
2. Why are you forcing this upon us?
3. Do we have to train others on this technology?
4. What is the reasoning for this change? This change creates more work for us.
This is an outstanding effort, and your program is offering a lot of "carrots" to get the technology integration job done.

I have not heard of this much hand holding, or this much commitment to teacher professional development before.

The issues, complaints and protests that you hear teachers making are legitimate. (These gripes are heard almost everywhere, so there must be something to them).

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I was trained to pay attention to complaints, and to respond to complaints as if they were gifts (which they are).

If we understand that complaining teachers are correct (from their point of view), and speaking to us directly from a real place of their pain; we have clues to what we really need to do to help teachers integrate technology.

Unfortunately, the program that you describe is expensive in terms of...

* ITeacher and helper time
I The long-term delays that students experience before they receive the kind of integrated instruction that your goals target
* The cost of building trust and confidence in the teachers who are supposed to be helped by the program
* Convincing school district "bean counters" and "politicians" that "this technology integration thing" is not just a cost-center (or worse, an ever-widening "rat hole" into which the pour (and waste) money

"Unfortunately, what needs to be done to resolve these teacher concerns will be tremendously more expensive. How expensive, I don't know, because no school system that I know of has spent the money to implement the "cure."

(Note: The integration of technology is similar in cost to the Special Education requirements of the Education for all Handicapped Children's Act,94-142. If the spirit of the 94-142 law were ever fully funded, a substantial portion of our Gross National Product would be needed to carry out the education for our Special Education students. )

School districts would like to do all things for all students, but budgets fall short of this ideal. What school districts do instead is partially fund, under fund and semi-fund a little of everything...doing almost nothing wholly and completely.

The monetary scrambling that school districts engage in is the result of not being able to say, No."

The most enlightened response to the integration of technology issue would be to say...

"We have a fraction of the money that we need to be successful with this initiative. If we under fund this initiative the way we will have to, if we cut corners and if we buy equipment without building the "people infrastructure first; then the equipment will be obsolete before we recover more than 20% of our investment through student use. And, the equipment will be in salvage piles and scrap heaps before we capture just one piece of data that shows the connection to these massive expenditures and student achievement scores".

School districts want to do a lot with meager funding. But, then communicating to our politicians and patrons, our school district officials should harden these groups to expect meager results.

Instead, the fact that the district only spends a fraction of what was needed to create a successful technology integration program (although to school officials this was a huge amount that produced minimal results).

Then, instead of either..

* Accepting responsibility for the under funding and minimal results
* Setting reasonable expectations for a pilot, proof of concept project
* Doing the basic research to find the direct connections between technology integration and measurable student achievement
* Rejecting the entire initiative as too expensive for too little benefit

School district decision-makers shoved the responsibility on to the backs of already burdened teachers.

I wrote a series of newsletter articles that focused upon the issue of school district and technology planners failing to understand and act upon what teachers want and need.

The links to the articles are:

'The Role of Technology in Technology Integration: It's not what "They (IT Departments) Think"'

'Teachers to IT Departments: "You have Homework"'

"Teachers to IT Departments: You have Network and Back-End Programming Homework"

Teachers to Open Source Advocates: "You have Homework!"

Were we to have done the job of promoting technology integration in an adequate manner, we would have...

* Built an "educational case" for the integration of technology, instead of considering that this is "something our students need for their future world of work"
- If this is something that benefits employers, then employers (corporations, business and government organizations) should be asked to foot the bill
* Approached the technology integration goal from a teacher perspective
* Developed the programming and back end infrastructure that decreased teacher's work
* Developed the programming and back end infrastructure that made the technology easier to use
* Held teachers hands, every step along the way
* Provided release time during the school day for training
* Provided compensation for every single hour of after school, Saturday, and Summer hour spent learning the technology
* Outlawed "software only" training sessions
* Ensured that trainers practiced every item that they trained in classrooms with real students before they were allowed to present to teachers
* Provided reasonable time frames for teachers
- to learn how to integrate the technology
- to change how they deliver instruction
- to develop and solidify new habits of instructional delivery
* Connected each and every step of the technology integration process with measurable increases in students' achievement

I know that school district employees cannot say these kinds of things and remain employed, but school district folks can know the facts, and keep them in awareness as they figure out diplomatic and career-enhancing ways to bear the bad news to their supervisors.

And the integration of technology is only one of many areas where school districts are trying too much and accomplishing too little. Other areas of under performance (when compared to expenditures) include:

* Art and Music Education
* Bilingual Education
* Career Education
* Gifted and Talented Education
* Guidance and Counseling
* Special Education
* Staff and Professional Development

Our teachers need to shake the vestiges of the 18th Century "School Marm" who swept the floors, chopped the wood, drew water from the well, and taught students with ages ranging from six to sixteen. And for this privilege, they could not have a boyfriends or get married without loosing their jobs.

Expecting teachers to shoulder every social cause is unrealistic.

And, it is unrealistic to keep adding to the list of tasks that teachers have to do without...

* Paying them more money
* Training them at school district expense
* Giving them time to master complex skills
* Finding out what tasks that teachers have been assigned are unproductive, and then eliminating these superfluous tasks

In the area of the business of school district budgets, you might consider reading my article, "Budget and Finance for School Folks who Love Children"
I agree with you. I use the same tools to "teach the teachers" as I expect them to use with their students. We meet once a month and the rest of the time communicate and share through wikis, forums, blogs and email. It makes learning continuous and supported as well as automatically forming a repository of resources.



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