I interviewed a colleague who is currently teaching Grade 4 and is in her fifth year of teaching, with two years in contract and three years as a Teacher on Call. The colleague is female and the interview took place after school in her classroom. She describes herself as “not a techy person.”
Teacher’s goal is to become a learning support teacher and approached our current learning support teachers with the observation about her class “I really think that half of it because I want to be a learning support teacher and so being in this classroom and seeing kids struggle.” It was the conversations with these colleagues that “It was conversations with our learning support teachers here at school to say how can I have these students who have really showed me nothing, and have no motivation, how can I have them show me that they understand fractions, or that they understand addition, or they understand multiplication, and having those conversations was really kind of pivotal, I think, okay I am going to do this.” She shows how having people to collaborate with gave her the confidence to try and implement technology to support her vulnerable learners. The second piece was that “they gave me easy ways to put it into practice, …, at first I was a little overwhelmed with including technology but they kind of broke it down and says this is how you could show their learning in this Math unit.” Having that peer face to face time the teacher identified as pivotal in her desire to try implementing technology into her classroom.
Teacher was able to access in school co-teaching this year to support integration of technology in her classroom. She comments that “I think that really helped, because I was even watching her to figure out what to do and how to make it work” and shows the value of allowing a safe place for teacher to be learner as well.
Teacher introduced two projects this term using iPad’s. The first one was to demonstrate their understanding of a math concept and the second was to complete a project in Science. She comments that “the kids just soared once they figured out how to use it, and then how to go further and above and beyond with it.” This idea of keeping students involved in the process was further enhanced when she shared the success of a student that was shy to present or talk in class. The student was able to share by “all they did was touch the button and I think that takes away a lot of their fear when they share with their class.” Finally, she talked about the varied levels of each students projects but “for other kids to see that’s where you can go, it was kind of neat.”
I appreciate how aware the interviewee was of what helps her integrate technology into her classroom. Her focus on mentorship, peer collaboration and practical applications connected to my interview. I also thought it was interesting that she identified having f2f time with peers as “pivotal in her desire to try implementing technology into her classroom.” I think her focus on what motivates her is essential, it will help her persevere through the messy and sometime frustrating learning technology integration requires.
You are very right Derek. Implementing tech is rarely straight forward but her desire to continue and having a positive attitude to approach it with, will take her a long way.
I think that your mention of co-teaching is a brilliant, and often overlooked, component of on-site professional development. With teacher schedules being as busy as they are, it’s difficult to create opportunities for teachers to observe and/or teach alongside colleagues that they don’t typically get to interact with. This needs to be an intentional planning, otherwise, the opportunities simply don’t exist. Having a colleague on staff that can support other teachers is incredibly valuable, as technology integration requires a daily focus that can only be supported by those who work regularly in the school building. Too often, PD is seen as a one-off, whereby teachers attend a session, leave with an idea, get too busy to implement the idea, and then forget about the idea entirely.
I agree Allen. We know hands on learning is so important for our kids and yet we often fail to create such opportunities for ourselves as adults. It is a new approach we are working on in our district. Creating a train the trainer model in each building. We have one “expert” in iPad’s at primary and intermediate levels and one in Chrome Books at both levels.