Sunday, October 6, 2013

Strategies for Motivating Teachers

Motivating teachers to use technology is not an easy task. Teachers who have been teaching for some time, have already developed a routine in the classroom. They've experimented and changed things up and have landed on some solid techniques that work well for them and seem to work well for the students. Trying to convince a teacher like this to experiment and change again can be a challenge. Teachers are usually open to the idea of new ways to enrich learning. However, when push comes to shove, often times they hesitate and reject change. Most teachers will recognize and agree that technology is a major player in the 21st century learning initiatives, the common core, STEM, NGSS, NCLB (Beetham, H. Sharpe, R., 2013).

(Missing APY for the IEP subgroup, changed the PLC's focus to rTi, because NCLB requires SES.---Sorry, I couldn't resist a little acronym humor. Oddly enough, to those teachers out there, this makes sense.) 

The problems with technology arise when teachers are asked to start using technolgy. There are wide ranges in abilities and attitudes towards the tools. The most common complaint is lack of time for appropriate training. The second common complaint is usually around the computers that are available to run the tool. Whatever the excuse, teachers need some convincing to use technology. One good way to make technology training more efficient would be to provide some pre-training surveys to create a technology training that was differentiated to suit the needs of most. People are naturally motivated when they are invested in the content. If teachers are given the choice of technology to learn, they will most likely be more invested to learn a tool they want to learn than to spend time pretending to learn something because it is mandated. 

Another way to increase motivation is to prove that WEB2.0 tools and other digital tools enhance learning opportunities, and students are actually more engaged with the content when they have some control over the lesson (Sadaf, A. 2012). How do you prove that digital tools enhance learning? One way would be to use actual student work from that school to show that students can use the tool in question, and can produce high quality work. On another note, many of these decisions to enhance education seem to trickle into education from the top down. Students are rarely ever asked what they want and how they learn best. Some people might be rolling their eyes right now thinking "come on, like a kid really knows how they learn best. They just want to avoid work." In some instances, that may be true. But, if you never ask them, you'll never get a real answer. Students should be included in some of these decisions and training to show how they can learn these tools, and show what they can produce, when given the opportunity. 

I think the technology integrator has to be the cheerleader, the expert, the motivator, and the ice breaker for using these tools. They need to be the "go-to" person to reassure the teachers that it's not so bad, and these tools can actually make your teaching life easier. Instead of taking the time to plan out a lecture, why not take less time to plan out a Blendspace lecture, followed up by a class discussion? There are ways to make the content more engaging, and ways to incorporate the tools without teachers feeling as though they were sent to the wolves. The technology integrator needs to have a strong presence and needs to be a patient person willing to work with all types of people. 

Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (Eds.). (2013). Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing for 21st Century Learning. routledge.

Sadaf, A., Newby, T. J., & Ertmer, P. A. (2012). Exploring pre-service teachers' beliefs about using Web 2.0 technologies in K-12 classroom.Computers & Education59(3), 937-945.

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