By Dr. Malia Hoffmann
The 21st century is synonymous with the age of technology, and therefore has transformed education in ways that affect both teaching and learning. Implementing technology integration and new technology curriculum in K-12 schools is a major emphasis for principals and superintendents who also need to know how to prepare their staff for the necessary changes.
Principals and superintendents will first need to assess what kind of technology savvy their teachers already possess--or not--and create professional development plans accordingly. Then, in order for K-12 teachers to embrace and use new instructional methods that incorporate educational technology and maximize the effectiveness of new technology curriculum, the teachers need to develop and possess the 3 C's: confidence, competence, and content.
How to Prepare Teachers and Staff for New Technology Integration
Principals and superintendents should start with an assessment of their teaching staff, which will reveal what their teachers know and don’t know about technology. These assessments should be written to follow the International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE standards, formerly known as the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers, or NETS-T; these are the technology skills that teachers should be regularly using in the classroom. They include the following, from the ISTE-NETS standards:
Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity.
Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments.
Model digital age work and learning.
Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility.
Engage in professional growth and leadership.
Based on the assessment results, teachers should be grouped by ability level and an individual professional development plan should be created for each teacher. This will ensure that each teacher gains the confidence and competence he or she needs to be effective in teaching and implementing high quality technology and content in the technology curriculum.
Develop the 3 C's
The next step in preparation should focus on the 3 C’s for teachers as they strive to adopt and use technology and the technology curriculum in the classroom.
In order for technology to really make a difference at each school, teachers must develop and possess the 3 C's, as they participate in technology training with Integration Specialists:
• Confidence – Teaching staff develop confidence as they learn from training and understanding vocabulary and the basics. This training process includes demonstration, practice, trial and error, and more practice to reinforce new skills.
• Competence – Teaching staff gain competence from modeling and learning best practices, and seeing technology impact their students' learning. This training process includes staff observing skilled computer teachers using age and grade appropriate technology skills, while weaving them into relevant educational themes. This helps teachers learn acquire “on the job” and "hands-on" training, while assisting the computer teachers and learning and implementing best practices.
• Content – Teaching staff learn how to develop great content as they evaluate current classroom lessons and create project-based technology units. This training process includes creating and implementing standards-based lessonplans that both teach and inspire students. By taking an inventory of all available classroom technology, as well as reviewing and aligning with the state or core standards, highly skilled Integration Specialists weave engaging technology projects into existing classroom lesson plans. This allows classroom teachers to see their lesson plans transformed into relevant and effective projects enriched by 21st century technology.
Why Is Professional Development So Important?
Assessing teaching staff and preparing them to implement technology and technology curriculum are not isolated incidents in just a few schools or school districts. Around the nation, numerous educational groups are determining the best ways to prepare teaching staff to effectively manage technology integration, including:
Professional development coordinators and directors.
Grant Committees and other funding groups.
Teacher unions and associations.
How is YOUR school handling assessment and preparation of your teaching staff? Technology integration and proper implementation of technology curriculum is vital to prepare students for life in the 21st century as technologically literate adults.