Jan 31, 2020 2020-01-31
By Toni Moberg
As an educator of many years, change has always been an influential companion on this exciting journey of teaching students. Lately, change seems to be the driving force of everything. This became very evident when I asked my students what careers they would like to have in the future. Their answers were very different from the usual pro ball players and nurses—they said they wanted to be YouTubers! This shows just how prevalent technology is in their everyday lives, both in and out of school.
With that said, I need some tricks in my bag to stay on par with these technology innovations. Below are some best practices I use when implementing and embracing a new technology ranging from software and hardware to apps and everything in between.
Train. This one might be a given, but training is so important when implementing new technology. This includes direct, in-person training from a technology provider who can show the ins and outs of the technology so it can be used with fidelity. You should build a rapport with the technology provider and they should be easily accessible if and when questions arise.
For example, when I first began using Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready software, named in Bill & Melinda Gates’ 2019 Annual Letter as an example of an effective digital curriculum, I was a little overwhelmed because it has so many components. However, the company provided thorough training that helped me navigate the online program and maximize its power. This allowed me to jump in quickly and start using the program to help increase my students’ proficiency in reading and math.
Observe. It is always important to sit down and observe what students are actually doing and seeing when they are using technology. For an app or software, for example, what graphics are being used? What types of questions are being asked? What’s the learning progression?
Viewing a program from a student perspective can be revealing and can help you better support your students if they come to you with questions. This could range from assisting with log-ins to navigating to different areas of the program.
Collaborate. Talk frequently with your colleagues about their best practices with technology. How are they using it successfully with students and how are they integrating it as part of their instruction?
My colleagues and I participate in grade-level PLCs every other week. We discuss a variety of topics such as technology and data usage, including how we are using student data to drive instruction. We turn to each other to see what’s working and how we can best support students’ needs through data-driven decision-making.
From Chromebooks to online learning programs, adopting new technology is a change that can take time and effort. However, the use of edtech can be monumental to both the teaching and learning process. This has been true for our school, which over the last few years has moved from a D school to an A school—a type of change that is easy to love!