Back to Basics

I recently had the opportunity to give 45 minutes of one-to-one training for each of the K-5 elementary teachers at schools where I serve as Curriculum and Technology Specialist. The training was needed to improve use and understanding of a new, standardized OS X set of programs that had been installed on all computers in the schools' Local Area Networks.

I approached this project knowing that the teachers would have a wide range of comfort levels with technology use. I came prepared with a menu of the basics of file management and printing issues that would present themselves to even the most tech savvy of these teachers. A quick overview of each program available on the new image was included, but I based the amount of time spent on each program on the grade level and tech knowledge of each teacher.

As Barbara mentions in her tip from December 10, 2004. I took the time to listen to teacher concerns and I took pains to avoid sounding impatient or judgmental with teachers lacking basic computer skills. I let teacher questions lead my instruction, while still making sure that the basics were covered.

Many teachers had confusion about creating, saving and printing files in word processing programs. These teachers expressed embarrassment at their lack of tech knowledge. This one-on-one approach allowed them to ask questions that they had never had time to ask.

Working with them in their own classrooms allowed me to discover some glitches in their computers and email addresses that can now be resolved by our tech support team.

The principals supported this training by hiring a roving substitute teacher to work with the teacher's students for the 45 minute training. Teachers were more open to learning the basics now than in the past because of the personalized nature of the training, and the value of the resources that were shared.

  • Know the basics that you want to have covered (include email).
  • Plan a menu of programs and projects available to share with teachers, but don't feel like you have to cover everything.
  • Know the needs of the grade level (pre reading, math facts, state reports)
  • Be ready to learn from higher end tech users
  • Encourage your teachers to share with each other (files and skills)
  • Have your principal back you up with a roving sub.

Submitted by:
Sarah Zykanov
Curriculum and Technology Integration Specialist
San Rafael City Schools
Dominican University
San Rafael, California