When it comes to using technology, K-12 teachers are eager to use tech tools in their classrooms, but most lack the confidence to use them effectively. Only 10% of teachers polled in one survey said they felt confident in incorporating new tech in their classrooms. Nearly 80%, however, were willing to receive training to learn new tools. This presents a real opportunity for tech leaders to play a key role in professional development activities.
Dedicating the time and resources to a professional development program is an investment in both teachers and students. These programs can provide teachers with new ideas and approaches to meeting students’ learning needs. Delivering this type of continuous learning also builds teachers’ skill sets and helps grow their careers. Now, more than ever, with record teacher shortages, professional development opportunities are key to investing in the teachers you have and helping drive greater retention.
Making teacher professional development effective begins with ensuring programming is engaging. Getting input from teachers on what they want to learn in these sessions can help guide the programming and identify any gaps in knowledge or requests for advanced learning. In addition to making sure the content is interesting and relevant, sessions should be interactive and give teachers time to practice, reflect and get feedback from peers and mentors in this safe setting.
With the accelerated transition to remote and hybrid teaching, the pandemic also revealed the important role tech leaders should hold in professional development programs. During the COVID-19 shutdowns, teachers sought tools and methods to effectively deliver distance learning. Pageviews for one online learning site surged from 600,000 in February 2020 to over 4 million the next month. The pandemic forced teachers to adopt new methods of teaching rapidly, and it unveiled several key components to making sure professional development programs offer engaging content and ultimately increase learning.
Technology learning was an area that was being sought out by teachers during the pandemic as they had to quickly find ways to teach remotely using tools they had never used or been trained on. But even post-pandemic, incorporating technology into professional development is a practice that should remain. In fact, nearly 80% of teachers believe technology will make them more effective. Weaving technology into professional growth activities for K-12 teachers provides these 5 benefits:
1. Improves Teaching and Learning
Technology can enhance teaching and learning outcomes. It provides teachers with the tools they need to create more engaging and interactive lessons, leading to improved student learning. Teachers can use technology to create multimedia presentations, interactive quizzes and educational games that cater to different learning styles. With the right technology training, teachers can develop a range of skills and strategies to maximize the use of technology in their teaching practices.
2. Prepares Teachers for the Future
Technology is constantly evolving, and it’s important for teachers to keep up with the latest trends and developments. By prioritizing technology in professional development programs, teachers can acquire new skills and knowledge that will prepare them for the future. They can learn about emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, and how to use these tools in their teaching.
3. Encourages Collaboration
Technology can facilitate collaboration between teachers, students, and parents. With the use of digital tools, teachers can easily communicate with students and their parents, provide feedback, and share resources. Teachers can also collaborate with other educators from around the world, share best practices, and develop innovative teaching strategies. Professional development programs that focus on technology can equip teachers with the necessary skills to work collaboratively and foster a culture of teamwork.
4. Increases Efficiency
Technology can save teachers time and increase their efficiency. With the use of digital tools, teachers can automate administrative tasks such as grading, attendance tracking, and lesson planning. This can free up time for teachers to focus on more important tasks such as designing engaging lessons, providing individualized instruction, and building relationships with their students. By prioritizing technology in professional development programs, teachers can learn how to use digital tools to streamline their work and increase their productivity.
5. Enhances Student Engagement
Technology can make learning more fun and engaging for students. It provides teachers with the tools they need to create interactive and multimedia-rich lessons that cater to different learning styles. Students can use digital tools such as online simulations, educational games, and interactive whiteboards to actively participate in their learning. By prioritizing technology in professional development programs, teachers can learn how to use digital tools to create engaging and interactive lessons that will capture students’ attention and enhance their learning experience.
Technology leaders should be involved in professional development programs from the beginning, in the following ways:
Providing resources and support: Technology leaders can provide teachers with access to the latest digital tools, software, and hardware. They can also provide support and guidance on how to use these tools effectively in the classroom. This includes creating training manuals, organizing workshops, and providing one-on-one coaching to teachers. These resources should be personalized, taking into consideration subject areas, grade levels and other needs of teachers so they get the most out of the training.
Setting goals and objectives: Technology leaders should be at the table working with school administrators and teachers to set the strategy with clear goals and objectives for professional development programs. These goals should be aligned with the school’s overall educational goals and vision for technology integration.
Developing curriculum: Technology leaders can help develop the curriculum for professional development programs. This should include a range of topics such as digital literacy, technology integration, and online safety. They can also provide guidance on how to incorporate technology into existing curricula and lesson plans. Sometimes asking teachers what they want to learn or what frustrates them about technology can help drive curriculum development.
Building partnerships: Technology leaders can build partnerships with industry leaders, universities, and other educational institutions to provide teachers with access to the latest technologies and training programs. These partnerships can also facilitate the exchange of ideas and best practices among educators.
Conducting research: Technology leaders can conduct research on the impact of technology on teaching and learning outcomes. They can collect data, analyze results, and provide insights into how technology can be used more effectively in the classroom. This is also the place to continue understanding what aspects of technology teachers want to continue learning about. As new tools, like virtual reality, AI, and ChatGPT, become more widely used, teachers may want to better understand the implications of these technologies on education.
Professional development programs that focus on technology can have a significant impact on K-12 education. By providing teachers with the skills and knowledge they need to effectively use technology in the classroom, teachers can create engaging lessons that enhance student learning, prepare themselves for the future, foster collaboration, increase efficiency, and enhance student engagement.
Technology leaders have a unique opportunity to support and promote professional development for teachers and provide resources, support, and guidance on how to use these tools effectively in the classroom. Ultimately, investing in tech-involved professional development is an investment in both teachers and students, and can help build a more resilient and effective education system. It should be ongoing and prioritized at every stage of a teacher’s career. Gain more insights on incorporating tech learning into a teacher’s career continuum with this eBook.