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Teacher Training and Support December 20, 2007

Posted by ashleyquark in Training.

In recent years, school boards have been urging teachers to integrate technology into the teaching and learning process.  However, there are still many teachers who have limited technologocial skills which means they don’t feel comfortable implementing it into their classrooms. I can understand this.  Teachers have very busy lives between their jobs, extra-curricular activities, families, etc, etc, etc. Taking an hour to sit in front of a computer a few times a week does not seem feasible to many teachers.  And even if they have the time, many teachers (I’ve been one of them) say, “I don’t know what I’m looking for.”

However, if we want to meet student needs, teacher training and support needs to be a priority for school boards.  From my experience working on the Digital Internship Project (a project where pre-service teachers volunteer to focus on the integration of technology in their classrooms in their internship), I’ve been tossing some ideas around in my head.  One method that I think could be extremely effective is to model the process we have taken with the Digital Internship Project with practicing teachers.  This is how it could work.  Teachers volunteer to become “Digital Teachers” for a semester.  They are each given a laptop and are invited to attend 4 one day workshops throughout the semester.  At these workshops teachers would be introduced to various Web 2.0 applications such as blogging, wikis, podcasting, digital video editing, and so on. Then they could go back to their classrooms and try some of the stuff out.  The teachers could also be part of a social network like the Digital Internship Project social network to share ideas and troubleshoot between workshop.  If the teachers approached this project with half the enthusiasm as we saw in the intern teachers, great things would happen in classrooms! And then, of course, these teachers would become leaders in their own schools!

Another model was one I heard about from a cooperating teacher who attended the Digital Internship Project. This teacher teaches in the classrom 60% of the time and then the other 40% of the time, she is a teacher-mentor for the staff in her school.  Her colleagues invite her to their classrooms so she can help them learn how to integrate technology into their classroom and she can offer support when the students are there.  The great thing about this model is that the technology mentor is a member of specific school community.  They can ask her questions as they pass her in the hall or have lunch with her in the staff room.  Teachers do not have to play email-tag with someone at the other end of the city to get support. I love this model as well. A combination of these two ideas might work well too!

I’d love to hear other people’s ideas as well as what’s going on at their schools! 


1. teachingchris - December 20, 2007

I totally see where you’re coming from, Ashley! So often we present ideas to teachers in one-off sessions — very little modeling takes place, and teachers are given no time for guided practice, and there’s no reflection/follow-up. I think ALL PD, not just technology-related PD, should be implemented with support like you describe above. This would create a real learning community in a school. Then, if we let teachers self-identify areas for PD, imagine the possibilities!

2. Ashley - December 21, 2007

I love it! Imagine if teachers chose areas of interest, were given continual support, and formed authentic learning communities (I love the online communities because they allow people to collaborate worldwide). If we could give teachers more prep time, they could enter their colleagues’ classrooms and offer their expertise and support in a variety of areas. Thanks for your comment. It took my thinking one step further!

3. M. McMillan - January 16, 2008

The approach we have undertaken in my division is to form school teams of a teacher and teacher librarian who come together for 7 half day workshops for each of two years. Workshops are followed up with classroom support where I assist teachers or plan with teachers for the integration of technology. It is hoped that these two individuals from each school can help support others and I also am available for that support as well. Because pedagogy is so important, our program, called LearningPlus, focuses on effective teaching with themes of differentiated learning, information literacy, brain compatible learning and technology enhanced learning woven together to try and help educators respond to the needs of all learners. Technology is one of the tools, then and not the focus. If anyone is interested, the website is at http://web.rbe.sk.ca/learningplus
The challenge behind all of this is financial. Ongoing PD of this sort can be very effective if hardware and support people are in place. We are fortunate that all teachers now have laptops and all schools have at least on mobile cart. But the ongoing PD and the support are significant $

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