There are two paths my professional life is taking that I am excited to share:
#1 I have transitioned from being a 4th grade classroom teacher to being a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) as a K – 6th grade instructional math coach. As a math coach, I assist teachers from the 2 schools that I am assigned in planning and implementation support for integrating the CCSS mathematical practice standards into their math lessons.
#2 I am attending grad school to earn a master of science in technology as part of Cal State Monterey Bay MIST program. This is a completely on-line program that is designed based on project based learning and reflection, which suits me very well.
Based on #2 from above, I am posting my reflection from this week’s readings based on two sources: the book Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology and a 2012 journal article from Computers and Education titled Teacher beliefs and technology integration practices: A critical relationship.
Comments on Integration of Technology in the P-12 Educational Realm
It seems that veteran teachers, being educators, would jump right into researching and implementing a new educational best practice with ease. After all, most expect students to learn and apply a vast amount of information daily in classrooms. Apparently when it comes to integration of technology, as a whole, we are lacking due to our attitudes. It turns out that after all is said and done by administration to support effective tech use in the classroom, the majority of the time, teachers simply aren’t implementing its low level or high level use. Even if teachers have the basic PD to start using technology and the devices in students’ hands, “Teachers’ own beliefs and attitudes about the relevance of technology to students’ learning were perceived as having the biggest impact on their success” (Etmer 2012).
In my professional experience as an elementary school teacher on the leadership and innovation committee at my site and district, a model of scaffolding for teachers supports teachers in order for them to develop accepting attitudes toward regular, high-level technology use in the classroom. A multi-year phased in plan helps change teacher attitudes about technology use over time by serving to build on information used from a gap analysis of classroom technology integration. For example, a model based on the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2009) from chapter 21 readings, could be used as a guideline in developing a multi-year roll out of technology integration and supportive PD by innovative leadership at a school site. It is important that the plan incorporate HPT processes to ensure stakeholders’ unique needs are met and that there is a constant revisiting of the plan to analyze and refine if changes are needed during implementation.
Having experienced such a plan at my school site, one hurdle still remains to move teachers from low-level teacher-centered use, i.e. Alan November’s “$2,000 pencil”, to high-level student-centered projects that “promote student learning through collaborative involvement in authentic, challenging, multidisciplinary tasks by providing realistic complex environments for student inquiry, furnishing information and tools to support investigation, and linking classrooms for joint investigations” Means and Olson (1997). It is important for teachers to let go or over-hall ineffective, classroom routines or units they love to teach even though they are teacher-centered, not student-centered. For example, “Becker (1994) found that only 45 of the 516 computer-using teachers he surveyed, were able to do so. That is, these 45 teachers reported actually dropping “inconsequential” curricula from their current practices to make room for more student-centered lessons”. Student centered versus teacher centered is a conversation I have had many times with colleagues. It is a real struggle for teachers who feel that they just want to keep something of the way things “used to be” even though doing so does not improve learning outcomes. Meanwhile, this deficit thinking may be preventing their struggling students from developing the skills they need for life-long success.
Are you a teacher or an instructional designer? What are your thoughts in regard to teacher integration of technology in classrooms? I welcome positive, constructive comments.