All of these teachers are beginning their journey of fully using technology in all their teaching. They are great teachers, many of whom have been teaching for many years. Several of these veteran teachers have been teaching 5th grade for much of that time. They know their curriculum and have developed efficient routines to teach it. They are turning their world into something new with the tools and skills they are developing through their experience in the cohort. This is a truly brave, risk-taking decision that indicates the commitment teachers have to better reach their students.
In one textbook I studied recently, Teacher Supervision and Evaluation, I found a profound point. “Efficiency is enticing. Giving up efficiency to learn new strategies is difficult.” Efficiency is enticing. Using a new tool like Canvas or Nearpod can disrupt the comfortable efficiency of the routines developed over the course of years of teaching. The text goes on to explain that when new technology is learned, efficiency returns and ultimately increases the effectiveness of the teacher. The teachers in the 1:1 Academy have decided that the opportunity to teach with technology is worth the temporary discomfort of working to understand the tools and the management of students with those tools.
The truth is, most teachers are new to using technology with students because the technology itself is new. The availability of student devices has increased dramatically in the past few years. The Spring 2012, shortly before I joined the Ed Tech team in Canyons School in Fall, my elementary school had purchased its first 30 device mobile laptop cart. We were ecstatic to have it in our building. Today, in each of my three elementary schools I work, there are some 1:1 classrooms and every teacher has access to mobile devices. The reasons for educators not to invest in integrating technology into teaching are rapidly disappearing. We have committed to help build a framework of support to help teachers to develop increased ability to reach students in creative ways through technology. The Academy is designed to do so. In planning for technology, we understand the devices and programs are the cheapest part of the process. True implementation will not happen on a school or district-wide scale with out professional support being facilitated regularly for our teachers.
Those who have joined the Academy as technology savvy teachers are accustomed to the risk-taking that trying a new technology with students without knowing for sure how students will respond. This Academy gives them the tools they need to innovate and collaborate. Our Academy teachers are seeing that collaboration is more than farming out the work of building resources, it is discussing student learning outcomes and how to meet and measure those outcomes. This Professional Learning Community is working with our Education Technology Department to build collective knowledge about best practices, integration of instructional priorities, and engaging students safely with the resources to which technology connects them.
Regardless of the level of understanding teachers have when joining the Academy, they are all leaving comfortable, established practices and lesson plans and engaging in the possibilities technology brings students. Many have already shared some of the rewarding experiences they have had when using technology with students. They are using their existing knowledge to go deeper with content and give students opportunities to learn not only how to use tools, but be productive digital citizens. Narrowing the digital divide between teachers and students has also helped these teachers to build a community of learning within their classrooms. Students are noticing the efforts their teachers are making to reach them with technology. These teachers are doing much to help promote the mission of Canyons School District- “All children…will graduate college- and career-ready.”
Nolan, J. F., & Hoover, L. A. (2011). Teacher Supervision and Evaluation: Theory into Practice. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley.