I've been thinking about the way that schools deal with technology integration. I've spent time talking to teachers from all over the country to see how they use technology in their schools and how it is implemented. After these conversations are started to think about what might work best for teachers and students. I think I've come up with a pretty good plan to help districts ensure that teachers are receiving the support they need to instruct students and use these valuable pieces of technology they are purchasing and placing in classrooms.
This plan seems like it would work great in my district, but it might not be the exact fit for your district. Feel free to take these ideas and adjust them for your school system. Let me know if you do, because I would love to hear how it works. :-)
I've broken up the Technology Department into 4 levels. Each level has a very specific role. These job concern the implementation and support of new and existing technologies in a district.
District Technology Director
This is the administrator of the Technology Department. It is important that this is the only job this person does. I have heard about other districts that lump this job in with others. The phrase, "Jack of all trades and master of none" comes to mind. Organizing the implementation of technology across the district is a full time job if it is expected to be done well. Attending conferences, visiting other districts using various tools, visiting schools and working with other members of the department will be time consuming. To ensure that the DTD can do a great job, technology needs to be the main focus.
The DTD should also work closely with the School Board, Superintendent and building Principals. Advising the Superintendent and the School Board on technology purchases and installation is necessary so all parts of a school district are on the same page. It is important for the DTD to be the expert when it comes to the various types of technology a district is considering. The DTD should also work closely with building Principals. Every building has different needs and its important to keep in contact with the Principals to see if there is anything building specific that might be needed.
The DTD will also work closely with 3 District Technology Coordinators.
District Technology Coordinators
District Technology Coordinators are teachers that will be assigned to 3 grade level groups. One will be assigned to K - 4, another will be assigned to 5 - 8 and the last one will be assigned to 9 - 12. It is very important that these teachers are currently teaching in the grade level groups they are assigned. Technology use by First Graders is very different from technology use by Sixth Graders and very different from technology use by Twelfth Graders. One person should not be in charge of helping other teachers in all grade levels. Again, the "Jack of All Trades" concept comes into play. Also, as current teachers, they will be able to help others by showing them example lesson plans.
The DTCs will focus on tech implementation and professional development for their grade level groups. They will each be in charge of a blog specific for their grade level group providing tech tips and tools. I currently run a blog for my school district and post every other week. I try to find all different levels of tools, games and lessons, but it is not easy. As a High School English teacher, I do not know what a 5th grade Math or Science teacher might need or use in the classroom. By having blogs dedicated to the 3 different grade level groups, teachers will know the updated blog will be something for their grade level. It makes sharing easier for teachers across the district.
The DTCs will also be responsible for working with Building Technology Coordinators.
Building Technology Coordinators
It is important that each building has a teacher that is responsible for coordinating the Professional Development for technology and provide tech support for teachers during the school year. The BTCs are crucial to this system. They are the ones that are going to work with teachers every day to help implement technology. These are the teachers that are going to have the greatest direct impact on technology integration in a school. Too often, professional development is a half day of sessions with little to no support for teachers after the day is over. We would never teach a student this way, so why teach teachers this way?
The BTCs will work closely with the DTC to provide them with tech tools that teachers are interested in and want to use in the building. BTCs will also coordinate PD with the BTCs to ensure that all building are on the same page. If possible, these teachers should have a technology period. This time would be set aside to all the BTC to help teachers with various technology questions. I was given a technology period during lunch. This way I could move my lunch so I could help various teachers during their lunch time. If that doesn't work, establishing "Tech Office Hours" before or after school would be another good way to support different teachers who might need extra help with various tools.
The BTCs will be responsible for bringing all of the teachers in the building up to speed on the different tech tools in the building. It is not an easy job and they should not be expected to have everyone on board by the end of the first school year, but they are key in moving a building, and a district, into the 21st Century.
Here is a diagram my 5 year-old nephew drew from me.
Actually, I drew it. While the art might not be super awesome, the pyramid shaped diagram shows the process of helping teachers and staff. There could be another step to this diagram. The teachers and staff would be responsible for making sure students become proficient in the new forms of technology that the district is integrating.
One of the first things a district administrator might say is, "It's an amazing idea, but how do we pay for all of these teachers?" A teacher might say, "This is easily the best tech plan ever thought of, but how are teachers going to be compensated for their extra work?" Those are great questions. Below are my ideas for compensation.
The District Technology Coordinators - Compensation equal to a club adviser or coach. This will be a time consuming job for a teacher and it is important to pay them for their time.
Building Technology Coordinators - I think these teachers could be compensated with pieces of technology that would help make their job easier. An iPad or Netbook would be a nice way to show that these BTCs are appreciated. They could also use these tools to connect with other teachers in the district to coordinate and collaborate.
This plan is something that might not work everywhere for many different reasons. The reason I am sharing this is that it might spark a flame within a tech director, superintendent or other teachers to think about their district's tech setup. Integrating new technology using the same model from the 80's or 90's is going to hurt the teachers. The focus should no longer be teaching teachers just about email or how to turn on their Dell. The focus needs to be on teaching teachers the tools they need to instruct more effectively and then have them teach the students so they are ready for the next step in their educational or professional life.
What do you think? What did I leave out? Let me know in the comment box!