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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Smartboards need Smart Teachers

In the last week, after our training from Faisal, I was really struck by how well the mimeo worked.  I have heard of mimeos hiding in closets in some districts and I personally know some teachers that have Easyteach boards in their rooms that they never touch. Why?  They lack training.  It is not a good idea to spend money on technology and not FULLY train teachers how to use them.  I had no training when I received my Promethean board. It took a me a year to fully understand how to use all the features and I would have used it for more if I had been trained for a few full days.  The training has to involve not just the features, but the content area toolbars and resources.  Teachers need TIME to build or change resources.  Unfortunately, districts want the biggest bang for their bucks, so they choose increased technology over training.  If we had the chance to learn our craft, we would be more effective and could turnkey our knowledge with other teachers in our district during district professional development.  I am seeing a trend toward this area in some schools, simply because districts cannot afford to bring people in from outside.   It is not enough.
If there is a teacher in a school who knows what they are doing, we can use prep times to be in their rooms and learn from them as they use the technology.  Both can get professional development hours for this.  We started off in the field as simple observers in our fieldwork classes, and it is still a wonderful method of learning as we attempt to keep up with the latest innovations in education. Here is a district goal outlined by Alan November, senior partner at Educational Renaissance Planners in Evanston, Illinois:
Since this is the job I am performing right now, Technology Integrationist, I am more aware than ever of the lack of technology education our teachers have.  The little things like saving to a jump drive and printing in greyscale are big dilemmas to teachers who are now expected to provide interactive lessons using Smart boards.  I only hope that we move away from the drive-by trainings that don't provide the ongoing assistance teachers really need.  Only some of the teachers are comfortable with screencasts and webinars, a huge population of teachers need hands-on training that can be repeated as they need it. As I try to squeeze such trainings into lunch periods and preps, I get frustrated.  I feel like every other teacher feels when their students are just about to complete an objective and the bell rings.  I will be pushing for some substitute coverage so I can get more time with individual teachers.  Luckily I work in districts that have technology-rich goals, so I may actually get somewhere.  
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