Supporting Teams are essential

What are the underlying issues and why are they issues?
– I watched a number of the videos but my discussion is primarily based on Case 5 and Case 1. To me the underlying issue was highlighted in listening to the teachers discuss their programs and the success or challenges that they were having. I noticed that in the discussion by the teachers in Case 1 that they were interviewed all together, they talked about what they all bring to the team and their different strengths and it was obvious that if they were struggling with one aspect that they could see and access another team member to help them. Comparing that to the teachers debrief from Case 5 where they all felt very individual and that support of a team was absent. As the teachers in Case 1 acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges is that technology doesn’t always work like you think it will and having to problem solve on the go. If you are in a team that fear of technology failing is much less intimidating and the staff from Case 1 seemed much more relaxed about it. I believe that the absence of support is often a limiting factor to exploring technology in a classroom.

What further questions does the video raise for you?
– I think I have two major questions from this. The first, is how do we support those teachers that are waiting on the sidelines that with the right encouragement would take the risk and bring technology into the classroom? The second, is how do we build teams, especially at the elementary level to support novice technology teachers?

How would you explore a response to this issue?
– This is something I have been working on all year and the comment that resonated with me the most was when I asked our teaching staff what they needed to support them with technology use in their classroom and one teacher said “I don’t know what there is to know what I need!” It was here that I realized I needed a much smaller step to support the staff.
– I believe asking those that have had success and how they got started gives lots of insight, allowing for many access points for staff to explore and try technology to boost their success and comfort is essential. Then seeking and exploring other districts and seeing what models they have set up and the success they are having are key to building a supporting model in my district.

How might the issue that is raised exacerbate or ameliorate a conceptual challenge held by students?
– If a teacher uses technology like it isn’t technology, what I mean is, reading an article online is the same as reading a textbook, then no additional growth in a student’s conceptual understanding is likely. Heather is a perfect example, she has an interpretation of what direct and indirect light were and looking at images online or in a book are unlikely to expand her understanding. However, if you look at the students who were producing the soundscapes in Case 5 they showed great understanding of the concept, in this case tornados. They had taken the time to research and the use of technology was allowing them a unique way to display their learning. The student talked about finding other information, with help from the teacher, to expand their understanding to enable them to have the knowledge to build their assignment. This shows how technology clearly improved a project that could have been a one dimensional poster board on the topic.

6 comments

  1. Hello, Sarah. I was part of the team in video case 1. I can attest to the fact that integrating technology and moving toward a third wave in which technology is leveraged for something other than polishing teacher presentation is mostly messy guesswork. The main ingredients are teachers who are not afraid to fail and big-time support from admin (or anyone else who may be perceived as controlling “what you teach”). We are in our fourth year of exploring the project based learning approach, and third year of in-class implementation. It is very meta! We tell the students how important it is to iterate, and do a lot of that ourselves. This is an important point because many visitors to our school are intimidated by where we are at. I find that surprising because I know about how much of it is still really bad! I enrolled in this program specifically because I wanted to be more efficient with our iterations.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      You raise some great discussion questions. One that resonated with me was, “How do we support those teachers that are waiting on the sidelines that with the right encouragement would take the risk and bring technology into the classroom? The second, is how do we build teams, especially at the elementary level to support novice technology teachers?”

      I recently visited Norma Rose Point school in Vancouver. If you haven’t heard of this school you should google and take a look at the incredible learning community that was designed here. Their mission statement: To meet learner needs we differentiate instruction, focus on Learner strengths, infuse technology in meaningful ways and collaborate with each other to be the best we can be. In our tour of the school, we asked the principal how she supports collaboration, as many schools do not have built-in collaboration time. She explains that once a month, students are kept outside between recess and lunch to work on an inquiry project with lunch-time monitors. Teachers spend the first ten minutes outside to facilitate, and then spend the rest of the time working in grade groups. I thought this was a creative way to support collaboration at the school level. I think with more opportunities to share and learn from one another, teachers would take the risk to implement technology into their classroom. At our school, we facilitated a weekly technology meeting on Friday’s surrounding digital portfolios. This is an opportunity for teachers to come together, eat their lunch, and discuss positive experiences and problems they’re experiencing. It’s been an amazing opportunity for professional development. At a previous school, we had a book club once a month where we met to discuss a professional development book and how we had used that in our practice
      Thank you for your thoughts and reflection.

      References:
      http://go.vsb.bc.ca/schools/normarosepoint/About/Pages/Mission-Statement.aspx

      1. Thanks for the great suggestion. I am going to go and have a look at Norma Rose Point School. I am a firm believer that it is a rare need to start from scratch, you just have to find the person/school that is moving in your direction and borrow some of their ideas and expand to meet your individual needs.

    2. Wow, thanks for sharing and for the honesty. I think it is good to hear that there is a certain amount of guesswork and that it is messy and for others to hear that. Change rarely comes in a neat box with a bow. I look forward to hearing more about your work and how MET has helped you.

  2. Hi Sarah

    I was also exploring answers while examining the same issue regarding the technology implementation in a classroom.

    For the first question, I would think that the process needs to be straightforward and easy to solve teachers’ apprehension and nervousness. That means:
    • No complicated setups in terms of installation or configuration
    • Technology platform independence – the devices should work with what most hardware vendors offer Out-of-the-Box

    When the technology meets these two simple requirements, it will make it significantly easier for instructors to overcome their apprehension and nervousness when introducing new technology in the classroom.

  3. Sarah

    I like the fact that you discussed the issues of teams. As teachers, we ask our students to work in groups/teams and some teachers do not wish to do that themselves, while others strive on it.

    I wonder if could expand on how to create a team within a school, especially when there are reluctant members.

    A good next step might be to include literature in your post.

    Christopher

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