Kimberly Nix, Senior Professional Development Manager

Instructional Technology Starts with Instruction for Teachers


“My students are so tech savvy.” I hear so many teachers make this statement. It is true; many students were born as digital natives having no fear of breaking the Internet. My usual reply is, “Yes, many of our students are tech savvy, but most do not know how best to use the technology to help themselves learn.” Heads nod.




I also hear principals and administrators make similar statements about their teachers: “My teachers understand what tools are available, but don’t know how to use them in the classroom to support their students.” We know that the instructional/technology coaches and specialists are working with the teachers to help where there is need. But, that need can often be too great and overwhelming.

In fact, from the instructional/technology coaches and specialists, I hear that most of their time is devoted to making sure teachers have the technology and the basic understanding of how to use it. Unfortunately, they often do not have the time and opportunity to show specific examples of how using the technology can support instruction and learning.  

With so many teachers and so few in supporting roles, most teachers do not get the training they need on how to make instructional technology benefit all of their students.  

So what can be done to ensure teachers not only receive the technology, but also learn how to use it to foster learning? Here are my top five suggestions for how to make sure your instructional technology is going to be used.
 

Top 5 Suggestions

1. Create dedicated times and space for teacher learning.
This can be a one hour Lunch & Learn, allotted time during their planning period, immediately before or after school, etc. Whatever time slot you decide, this should be a two or three part series to be sure all teachers have had ample time to learn and ask questions.

2. Provide hands-on practice and create materials to use with students.
Technology is best learned when teachers get hands-on practice and enough time to integrate it into the current curriculum. Creating materials for use in the classroom or that help students understand how to use the technology triples the likelihood that the program will get used and allows the teacher to take ownership of the new learning.

3. Follow up.
“Drive-by trainings” are only going to be effective for a few. Hold teachers accountable for the learning by asking for examples of how they are implementing it in their instruction or how students are reacting to it. Ask teachers and students for their evaluation on what was confusing or made learning easier. Ask them to set some goals for student use and monitor positive impacts. Following up shows the importance of teacher implementation and a willingness to continue to support teachers as they work to make a positive impact on learning through the understanding and use of technology.

4. Collaborate, celebrate and share. 
Ask for feedback. What is working and why? Is the technology helping students achieve? If not, what could be changed to make that happen? Share examples of what students are doing effectively or materials created that have helped instruction. Celebrate the positive changes for teacher and student success!

5. Lastly, hire an expert. 
With instructional coaches spread so thin, why not purchase some time with someone who can maximize yours? Most companies offer some type of training, which can assist your specialists or coaches in answering questions, getting hands on practice and, most importantly, give you specific examples and strategies to use to enhance instruction and learning.
 

Texthelp’s Got What you Need

training
Texthelp currently offers trainings for Read&Write (onsite and via webinar) and EquatIO (via webinar). The webinar training is hands on and interactive, just as though the trainer is in the room. The training includes a deep-level overview of all the tools and features and plenty of materials, strategies and examples so all who attend will be able to use our technology with their students right away!  Hold the training for small or large groups and receive a recording of the training for use to train others within your school or district.   

Texthelp also offers over 50 FREE Implementation Resources, covering everything from strategies for using specific product features, to parent communications, to best practices for student populations like English Language Learners.

In fact, a lot of these resources were contributed by customers that have had implementation success! If you have any implementation resources that you’ve developed for either Read&Write or EquatIO, we’d love to feature them on our site. Please submit them to trainingportal@texhelp.com.

One lucky participant will win an I ❤ Literacy or I ❤ Math t-shirt this semester, which will be announced December 7, 2018!

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