by Coby Enteen
Working with teacher and encouraging them to integrate technology is not always a simple task. Over the course of the past few months I have been leading an initiative integrating tablets into middle schools in an urban part of the country. Many of the teachers had never really used technology as part of their teaching and it was somewhat of a shock to wake up one day to a classroom in which all of the students had a tablet and all of the books had gone digital.
Overcoming the initial shock was was not easy. At first teachers tried to bypass the use of the digital textbooks by photocopying materials from workbooks and blaming the disuse on technical problems that they were experiencing. Through a great deal of coaching, guidance, ongoing hands-on training and lots of encouragement I was able to help them to change their ways.
The training sessions focus on new learning new applications and modeling effective teaching and learning with the tablet. It is then the responsibility of the teacher to transfer the skills acquired during the professional development into the classroom setting. Most are hesitant at first, but are able to with the added support of the instructional coach.
An important dimension of the professional development is the ability to provide teachers with a clear and consistent method of instruction. Once the method is in place, it is much easier for teachers to fit the content into a specific structure, at which point they begin to think more constructively and incorporate the ‘out of the box’ thinking mentality.
We have a long way to go before all of the teachers are utilizing the tablets to full capacity, but we have definitely gained some valuable ground.