Pushing your school forward into the digital era can take a lot of time and effort, especially if you have people in your district who seem unwilling to change. Some administrators may be unsure how to approach Digital Doubters when integrating new technology. The following list can guide the process to help you make the best, most strategic decisions for your district.
1. Meet teachers where they are
Not all teachers come to the table with the same level of digital proficiency. It’s important to invest in technology that complements what teachers have already mastered. If teachers are telling you that their students would benefit from certain technology, pay attention. If you know that different groups of teachers will need different levels of training, take that into consideration and implement a professional development approach that serves everyone.
2. Start Small
Adding new technology in your district may seem like it needs to be an everyone-at-once endeavor, but this isn’t always feasible or even necessary. Do you have the ability to pilot a program with just a few teachers? Starting small allows you to test new technology to see if it’s a good fit for your school.
3. Start Now
It’s fine to start small, but don’t delay. The sooner you begin introducing new technology, the sooner your teachers will be able to master it and the sooner your students will start to benefit.
4. Get involved
We all know that the “do as I say and not as I do” mentality isn’t helpful. Help administrators and faculty connect and collaborate by becoming actively involved in the adoption of new technology. If teachers will be expected to use the newest tablet in the classroom, learn how to use it first. Read titles from your school’s digital library if you’ve adopted one. Try out the new app before your students use it. The best way to become an advocate for new technology is by mastering it yourself so that you understand its both usefulness and limitations.
5. Provide quality professional development
Imagine investing time and money into professional development for your teachers only to see none of them put that knowledge to use. Who’s to blame here? Professional development should be as engaging as possible. Showing teachers how to use a new Chromebook or education app isn’t helpful when they can’t practice on devices. Network with other schools to find quality professional development so that you and your teachers don’t have to waste already stretched time.
6. Provide continuing professional development
Professional development should be ongoing whenever possible. An hour-long seminar is insufficient for teachers to feel confident enough to put training into practice. If you start with a pilot program, the teachers involved in the pilot can serve as expert mentors to other teachers who come on board later. Consider intensive training for a member of each department and then allow that teacher time to work with his or her department members to teach them about the new technology. Allow each department to work with that technology for a few months and then follow up with professional development that builds on (instead of repeats) previous training.
7. Be patient
Digital tools can *save* teachers time but, much like their students, your teachers need time to learn how to master digital content. If you tell teachers that they must implement a tool, there may be pushback if they don’t yet understand how. Show patience and understanding as new technology rolls out.
8. Seek feedback
Allow teacher and student feedback to direct you. Make sure to listen to every voice, both outspoken and quiet. There are many ways for your staff and students to submit feedback anonymously so that they feel comfortable being honest. Big changes can be complex and slow to implement, so engagement and flexibility is essential. Observe the process carefully and use that information to inform future decisions.
Keeping these key points in mind will help you as your school continues to grow digitally. Change may seem difficult, but if you keep the needs of your district, staff, and students in mind, you can all grow in the right direction: forward.