Recently, I transitioned from being an elementary school teacher into a Primary Technology Integration Specialist. Since I was a classroom teacher for ten years, I tend to think about technology with a teacher’s perspective. As a result, I have come up with three simple steps to help me in working with teachers and creating professional development:
- Respect the Teacher’s Time/Respect the Schedule
- Be Timely with Help/Support
- Be Brief and Relevant
If a person has never been a classroom teacher, it is impossible to describe what busy means. Having worked at other jobs in other industries, I very much understand a hard day’s work. However, teaching is a different kind of intensity. Teaching is rewarding but it is also very difficult. Most notably, your time is not your own. When I get up to get a coffee or just use the restroom when I want to and not after a bell rings, I need to remember this in my new role.
Recently, I gave a presentation to help teachers build their new class sites. This was not an easy task for many who see the sites as a ‘have-to’ with many other pressing issues at the beginning of the year. Did I mention that I had to give my presentation after the first day of school? Yes, this was not an optimal time.
As a result, I simply looked at what needed to be completed on their sites for Back to School Night… that was it. There are so many other neat and helpful things I could have shown them, but I had to think about what teachers needed right then. I laid out my presentation, created videos and other resources that teachers could refer back to, and kept everyone on-task. As a result, the teachers’ sites were built within that presentation time frame. Interestingly, several teachers have approached me since the professional development to ask about the neat and helpful things, such as embedding a calendar or adding a subscription widget. Believe me, I got back to them right away. I want to keep the momentum going.
Teachers are a tough audience with most teachers admitting they are not good students. However, as with any student that is difficult to reach, it’s all in the approach. Make the learning relevant and timely, respect their busy schedules, get back to them right away, and you might just find that they seek you out for more learning.
I understand that I have so much to learn and not all of the feedback will always be so positive, but for right now, it feels good. It also serves as a reminder that my job is not about implementing the newest technology tools. Rather, a big part of my job is to look at these tools and see if they will help teachers to do their job more efficiently and effectively; to free up some of their valuable time so they can teach.
Here is an example of one of the resource videos I created for teachers:
Below are screenshots of some emails I received after the class site professional development: