How not to fix technology reluctant teachers – Part 1 of X
I’ll get to numbering once I get my whole list done. I’ve been thinking of doing a series like this for a while and with the extended weekend, and a gentle rain outside, I give you some observations from many years of working with professional educators.
“How do I make them use technology?”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked that question by an administrator, principal or school board member I’d be relaxing on my own private beach in the tropics. Let’s make one thing abundantly clear about humans: You can’t make them do or use something they don’t want to and expect some magical result. Technology is a useful tool, not a hammer for every educational nail that appears.
As a tireless proponent of targeted technology implementation in PK-20 education, I’ve learned a few things about what we can and can’t do and especially how not to help teachers get to our little technology utopia.
If you approach teachers with the attitude that you are going to fix their teaching, you will fail in a spectacular manner.
Seriously. Don’t. Do. It.
Experienced educators have been successful over many years and perhaps decades of their career. They’ve invested in thousands of hours of professional development, have seen umpteen graduating classes and are good at what they do. As an outsider, you have no idea of their background, experiences, successes and goals.
Let’s say you approach one or many reluctant educators to share your whizzy-bang awesome new tool because you think it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread and will solve all their education “problems”. The experienced educators will look at you like a space alien. Why? Because you just landed on their planet and are trying to radically change their atmosphere, environment, curriculum and pedagogy. That feels both threatening and critical of what they do and how they do it.
How about we try this instead: Watch what they do in their classroom that has made them successful and gradually move from there. Start by offering ways that might make their already good teaching practices more effective or efficient through simple tools that clearly make their day to day tasks easier to perform.
Show them how they can use Google Drive to transport documents and files that they used to carry back and forth on their key chain USB flash drive. Demonstrate how useful Google Forms can be as they capture classroom data, communicate with parents or check for understanding through formative assessments with their learners.
Building relationships with educators, helping them make small wins, and giving them ideas that are specific to their situation is how things get going. As your new friends become more and more comfortable with the technology tools or applications, they will be much more likely to engage in conversations about expanding to different ways of doing what they are already good at.
Start slow. Don’t make assumptions that you know better than them and always approach with a mindset of service to others.