Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Dream Tech Plan

My Dream Tech Plan

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

- @TheNerdyTeacher


  1. Nick,

    I like the plan and had one idea. The BTC in my opinion are the most important piece as they will be the ones directly supporting/coaching the classroom teachers. Personally, I would like these people to actually be classroom teachers. In my district they are not. I like your idea of giving them a "tech period" but I would take that a step further. Take two teachers and split the teaching load. So, they would essentially be a part-time teacher. During their other part-time tey do the technology support/integration. This way they are still grounded in the classroom but have the time to help and teacher others.

    Good plan though...

  2. I agree. I thought I had said that these people would be current classroom teachers. The only one that would not be a teacher would the director. The rest should have students in their classroom. A part-time teacher would be awesome, but a full time one would be ok.

    Thanks for the comment.

    - Nick

  3. Don't forget the librarians. They would make excellent BTCs because of a slightly more flexible schedule and school wide perspective.

  4. Nick,
    This is excellent. I agree that the librarian could be apart of this plan. Currently my district follows a similar format to what you have laid out here. Although, do to budget cut backs, we might have to create a whole new plan. Nice work.

  5. Everything hinges on passion for using technology to increase student engagement and achievement at each level. We have one DTC for the corporation and BTCs in 7 of 12 buildings. I teach 4th grade and am a BTC. I was given an iPad and $200 to use for incentives for my fellow teachers. I used it to buy a handful of 4g USB drives. Our DTC does not believe in social media. I started an idea-sharing blog for her and the other BTCs at the start of the school year. I was just asked to close it down. I quietly started another sharing blog just for my building. Eight other teachers are now sharing ideas and it's going great. Bottom line at this point is that the teachers want to learn form each other and share their experiences. The teachers are passionate. Much of the leadership is passionless.

  6. Nick,
    I know that we do not live in a perfect world, but I have one question. The diagram shows grade level coordinators, what happens at the school level? Is the school coordinator responsible for all levels or would you have more than one coordinator for the different groups? Example K-8 school.

  7. Thanks for posting this Nick. I'm a classroom teacher who teaches in an urban charter school. We have one technology teacher who is our "Jack"- he is very hardware oriented and I'm very software oriented. We have combined forces and are finally begining to show our administration that technology isn't just luxury, but a necessity and enhances everyones experience. You have given us a structure to start a much needed conversation about how we can move forward. I really like Josh's idea of part time classroom teaching, otherwise I don't think an iPad would be compensation enough for a job that could add many hours to a teachers day. Also, integrating the librarian is completely necessary.

  8. To address the original post, and a few others.

    This model is a great first blush, but it is missing a district coordinator level. Someone that can help pull the other coordinators together. I would make this position on par with the Tech Director so that they can function on the district level stuff as needed, and collaborate on one another. I would then move the three main coordinators down to the building level, and remove the redundant building level coordinators.

    It sounds nice to say that you'd have someone in charge of "groups" of grade levels, but I would rather have those people specializing in different areas of technology. For example, instead of group coordinators, I would have a Video Conference Coordinator, an Assistive Technology Coordinator (this is a HUGE one that is overlooked in most schools), and a Digital Media Coordinator. These three people could focus on specific areas of technology, eliminating the "jack of all trades syndrome" and developing specialization for greater expertise.

    The building level people would HAVE to be working under a decreased teaching schedule, otherwise the effectiveness goes out the window. I've seen schools try to work with this model of full time teachers serving as building coordinators, and while it can work brilliantly, often with high energy, active people, they usually get burned out with the full teaching load.


Please post your thoughts here. Thanks!