Last Thursday the results of my district’s annual Professional Development Survey were made available. Teachers were asked to choose three topics of particular interest to them from a list of seventy possible training opportunities. Now, with that many choices in the list, only one topic is really going unify people and that is Power School, our state’s new school management system, which garnered a whopping 155 votes (11%). (“It’s coming in April whether you’re ready or not!”) So let’s just move on to the other choices.
It was with great interest and some trepidation that I looked to see where the Technology options had placed in this popularity contest, and I guess it could have been worse. Interactive Whiteboard training was third in the rankings with 87 votes (6%), which shows that teachers are eager to get the most out of the Promethean boards that were installed in all classrooms this year. The next most popular technology choices were Technology for Teachers: Intermediate with 29 votes (2%) and Technology for Teachers: Advanced with 23 votes (2%), which indicates that those who are already comfortable with using technology would like to learn more.
Interestingly, there was no Technology for Teachers: Beginner option, so I’m left wondering why not. Are our teachers all presumed to be farther along than beginner at this point? (Surely not!) Were those who are beginners were expected to pick and choose from the more specific technology offerings such as Using eChalk (our web page authoring software), Classworks, or TestView (which all placed near the bottom of the list)? Or perhaps the survey creators thought no one would admit to being a beginner? But I digress.
The option I was most interested in was Integrating Technology into the Curriculum, which in my opinion is our best bet for giving kids those 21st Century Learning Skills we keep hearing are so important. And how many chose it as a priority workshop topic, you ask? A mere 18 people (1%) feel we need to spend more time learning how to do this. So, is the title of this post an accurate reflection of educators’ opinion on this issue? I’d *like* to believe it’s just a case of ‘Been There, Done That, Got the Wiki to Prove It’ and they don’t need any further help in this area, but somehow I don’t think that’s true!
So as the Technology Coach for my school, where do I go from here? Well, it seems to me that I need to do more research with my own teachers to get a better handle on their attitude towards integrating technology into their classrooms, because it’s possible that they are doing more than I realize. It’s also possible that I’m setting the bar a little too high. After all, these are teachers who just had Promethean boards installed in October of this year and are coping with learning to use them effectively. Last month all of the teachers in our district also received a laptop computer, and for many of our teachers this is the first time they’ve ever used one. More teachers are making use of Discovery Education’s United Streaming program, which our state provides for all schools, to download educational video and ITV programming on demand. And several teachers are doing an outstanding job of using the classroom web page as a communication tool by having parents and students subscribe to their content. So I can’t say there’s no technology in our classrooms.
But it strikes me that this is all teacher use of the technology. Where is the hands-on for the students? Granted, there are some good student-centered things going on at Alice Drive Elementary School. For example, I can name four teachers in my school who borrow the classroom set of laptops on a regular basis so their students can do online research or create power points or make time-lines, but that’s four out of thirty-five. We can – nay, we must – do better! Stay tuned for a report on the results of my own school-wide technology survey.
**By the way, wondering what the other top vote-getters were in the professional development survey? Number two was ELA: Writing Instruction with 81 votes (6%), and number four was ELA: Using Small Groups for Literacy Instruction with 78 votes (6%), so from a Library Media Specialist point of view, I’m glad to see reading and writing place so high!
Image Attribution: “Survey crew”