Working with Reluctant Teachers

4/1/2004 By: Wesley Fryer

Many teachers feel overwhelmed with all the demands on their time, and some see technology as just one more thing on an already overloaded plate. There are solutions that staff developers can use to help them.

A staff developer recently asked, "Teachers in my school are very unsure about the effective use of technology. Last year, teachers were required to do at least three computer projects in a year. None of them did more than what they were required to do, and some of them were trying to get away with one. I got all kinds of negative comments about doing computer projects. The teachers believe computer activities are just a waste of time, and students should focus on reading and math. After all, teachers are held accountable for their students' math and reading test performance. Computer competency is their last and least concern. In order to influence teachers' view on learning and create a more technology friendly school, I would like to find out how technology use impacts students' learning and improves test scores."

This situation with reluctant teachers is not unique. Here are a few ideas that may help.

Enthusiasm is Contagious

Focus on the few teachers in your building who are very enthused about using technology. Help them and try to find ways to enable them to integrate technology use within their instruction. Technology integration is best when it works by modeling, rather than by administrative order/fiat. The best people to convince other teachers in your building (that using technology with kids is a good idea) are the other teachers in the building. The video, Keys to Technology Integration is online

Contact Others

Get in touch with others in your district who are working with teachers on technology integration. Get involved in a local chapter of your statewide educational technology organization and attend a regional conference if available, as well as the statewide conference. Pool resources and share ideas. Your situation is probably very common even within your district. Getting together with other teachers who face similar circumstances and have similar desires for helping teachers grasp how technology integration is vital in today's classroom can be very beneficial.

Publicize Success

When teachers in your building have success using technology, find ways to publicize the success and champion that teacher and what they are doing. Talk with your principal about this strategy. Call in the district newsletter editorial staff, local newspaper, TV media contacts, etc. Work with the district PR people. The message needs to get out: kids respond when technology is used, and this has a positive impact on student achievement.

(Editor's Note: Send your success story to techlearning.com for publication.)

Leadership

Encourage your principal and superintendent to attend a Technology Leadership Academy. In Texas, the Texas Association of School Administrators coordinates ours. Technology leadership at the campus and district level is vital. You can't do it alone, and a leadership academy provides a great chance for administrators to learn from each other as well as experts in the field about both the importance as well as the nuts and bolts of technology integration.

Read Books

For example, read David Warlick's book "Raw Materials for the Mind." He is a great teacher and practical thinker on instructional technology integration issues like the ones you are facing. I highly recommend his website, Landmarks for Schools as well as the ideas he espouses.

Subscribe to and Read Magazines

Technology and Learning as well as TechEdge, created by the Texas Computer Education Association. Both have good articles and ideas on technology integration. I also highly recommend "Learning and Leading with Technology" which is an ISTE publication

Literacy Framework

Read and get familiar with the Engauge framework, and share this with others on your campus and in your district. Engauge is a great framework for looking at the importance of 21st Century literacy skills and what we must be doing as classroom teachers to prepare students for their future!

Philosophy

Take a look at the philosophy that districts like Lewisville ISD have adapted toward getting both teachers and administrators excited about technology integration. There is a recipe and philosophy here that is transferable to other situations, although every district and campus has unique situations and a particular culture.

Good luck!

Email: Wesley Fryer
Read Wes Fryer's feature The IT Guy on techlearning on Mondays and Thursdays.

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