Problem of Practice

Allison Birbal

Part 1: Problem of Practice and Technological Solution


This summer I had the opportunity to attend several conferences that, in one way or another, focused on innovating ideas with technology and education. Having attended a variety of sessions, I felt myself re-energized and excited about implementing some of these ideas into my teaching. I had not only learned new techniques and ways to engage and teach children, but I also made connections with other educators and am able to continue our conversations through Twitter. My excitement about technology came to somewhat of a halt when I ended my summer presenting at a training for my district. This training was strictly for teachers who would be teaching at schools with 1:1 devices and also happened to be their final days of training before heading into their classrooms with all the new technology. Having been through several days of trainings throughout the summer, I had assumed that my colleagues would have a decent understanding of the technology they would not only be using, but also teaching their students to use as well. This was not the case, however. A majority of the teachers had felt overwhelmed, frustrated and were confused when I had give them simple steps to follow to download a program. When helping the teachers with glitches, many would use “Oh, I’m not good with technology” as an excuse for, what I feel is, their frustrations. Also, having worked in some schools over the summer, I came to the realization that in my district the principals are the deciding factor with what technology is purchased for the school and how that technology is to be used. Yet, many administrators are unaware of best practices with technology and view it more as what is necessary for standardized testing. The problem of practice I have been experiencing is the lack of technological knowledge in teachers and administrators and the lack of pedagogical knowledge on using technology in the classroom. To add to this problem, some educators have even resisted learning about integration of technology into their classrooms.


To solve this problem of practice, several implementations are needed to invigorate and educate teachers with regard to technology. Since typical “one-time-only” professional development and trainings have been unsuccessful, I feel that districts need to change the roll out of technology trainings beginning with differentiated trainings on the technology. Teachers feel frustrated at trainings because for some the information is too much too fast while others feel it is too slow and perhaps a waste of time. Instead, PD and trainings should be differentiated so that teachers are attending sessions that fit their need. These sessions should also be recorded or offered to the educators in some way so they are able to refer back to the topics covered. From there, teachers and administrators who are part of technology schools should be required to attend some type of technology conference, such as FETC, where they can learn from other educators, make connections, and feel excited about the opportunity they are part of. To take it even further, teachers and administrators should visit, observe, and meet with other educators who have successfully integrated technology in their classrooms and schools. In our district, instead of a portion of our evaluations being tied to test scores, perhaps part of our evaluation should be tied to learning strategies for technology integration, researching the strategies, implementing them, and then reflecting on the integration. The solution cannot be a one-size-fits-all training, instead, educators need to learn the basics of the technology and the pedagogical knowledge of teaching with technology to be successful technology integrators.



Part 2: Resources


Internal Resources:
1. Bruce Patrou, Chief Information Officer. Mr. Patrou would be a valuable internal resource with regard to placing IT specialists in 1:1 technology schools. He will have a good understanding of the devices, and which members of his team would be best suited for each school. Currently some schools in our district share IT support. With this initiative it would be crucial to have one IT support specialist in each 1:1 technology school.


2. Melanie Tahan, Director of Instructional Technology, Media Services, and Instructional Materials. Ms. Tahan’s knowledge of education, teaching, and technology will play an important role with educating teachers on the implementation of technological devices. Having a background in education allows Ms. Tahan to understand the challenges of working with children and not necessarily in a business world. I foresee Ms. Tahan and Mr. Patrou working hand in hand to ensure the best Educational Technology Specialists and IT Specialists are working together to promote the pedagogical technology knowledge the teachers and administrators need.


3. Della Thompson, Teacher Leader. Ms. Thompson is a current Language Arts teacher who has successfully integrated the use of laptops in her class. Her expertise with what pedagogy techniques work and do not work with the use of technology will be vital information to pass on to teachers who are new to the use of technology in their classrooms.


4. Early Release Wednesday. This is the resource of time! Currently these Wednesdays are used for professional development in categories other than technology. I am not suggesting that every Early Release Wednesday be used for Technology Training and Professional Development, but certainly some of them should be used for those purposes. My suggestion is one Wednesday a month be dedicated for teachers to learn about the technology and pedagogical strategies for teaching with technology.


5. Technology PLC/Virtual Club. This resource would be a time (or space) for teachers to share some of the pedagogical techniques they have used with the implementation of technology. I foresee this occurring in an Edmodo page where teachers could (and should) post videos of classroom lessons that successfully show their knowledge of the technology and its use as well as their pedagogical knowledge of how to implement a certain type of technology.



External Resources:

1. FETC Conference, held in Orlando, FL every winter. This conference will be important for our districts’ teachers to attend. This conference provides a plethora of sessions surrounding all types of technologies and will also allow teachers to connect with other educators from around the country. Here, teachers and administrators will see what has been successful in other schools and may be able to adjust to fit the needs of our district.


2. Flagler College, University of North Florida, St. Johns River Community College. Establishing partnerships with these places of higher education will help promote learning in our district. This partnership would allow our K-12 educators to understand what may be expected of our students after graduating from our high schools in terms of becoming life-long learners who contribute to the world. Also, places of higher education offer online classes that some of our high school students could take, or even explore with the help of their high school (or even middle school) teachers.


3. Ronald Blocker, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida Virtual School. Dr. Blocker and the advisory board of Florida Virtual School could provide some insight to our 1:1 technology school administrators and teacher leaders on best practices for virtual classes. With the use of 1:1 technology, many aspects of student learning will not have to occur in the classroom. With that, administrators and teacher leaders will need guidance as to the best ways to provide this content to our students.


4. John Thrasher, Senator representing St. Johns County and Donald Renuart, Representative of St. Johns County. Our elected officials will be important external resources as they are representing us in the decisions made at the state level with regard to education. It is important that a partnership is formed between the district and our representatives so the needs of our students are met with regard to technology education.


5. Twitter. This social media provides an ongoing conversation amongst groups and a space to share best practices and ideas. I would encourage all teachers and administrators to join Twitter and follow certain hashtags as they learn about technology education. Teachers and administrators would also participate in Twitter chats and make connections with other educators around the world.



Part 3: Budget


Click here to view my budget. Some of the amounts are averages (employee salaries). Also, some salary monies already are in place with the districts budget, so these would not necessarily be part of the budget to implement this initiative.


Part 4: Sustainability Statement


Our mission in my district is to inspire good character and a passion for lifelong learning in all students, creating educated and caring contributors to the world. Part of increasing lifelong learning in all students is to ensure students are engaged and understanding all material. Utilizing technical devices, with proper implementation, can be a tool used to help students become more engaged in their learning. Also, producing students who are caring contributors to the world requires students to have knowledge about other cultures and to make connections. By implementing 1:1 technology devices, students are able to make those connections with Web 2.0 applications. To meet this mission, teachers and administrators must be knowledgeable and innovating with the use of technology. With this initiative, all educators who are part of 1:1 technology schools will attend differentiated professional development, attend a technology conference, make connections with other educators, and visit classrooms and schools where technology has been successfully integrated.


With this initiative, educators will make connections with multiple partners from diverse areas. First, teachers and administrators will need to connect with other technology integrators through social media. Also, our district is colleges, with whom we can explore technology together. Teachers who are school leaders in terms of technology will be utilized to share their expertise with their colleagues. Lastly, teachers will be part of clubs or PLCs where collaboration and conversations will be held about how to deepen technology and pedagogical knowledge.


Leadership skills that will be implemented include having the knowledge about the needs of the educators in the 1:1 technology schools. Using this knowledge, an action plan will be written which includes steps necessary to reach the vision (Drucker, 2004). To ensure successful change occurs, leaders will use the skills of educators, provide incentives, utilize resources, and use an action plan to reach the vision of increasing teacher technology knowledge and enthusiasm.


To know the effort of my initiative is successful, several items will be put into place. First, educators will be surveyed at all professional development and trainings. This will help us understand their growth of technology implementation and their enthusiasm about the use of technology as well as tracking how their understanding and enthusiasm changes throughout the initiative. Also, students will be interviewed to gain an understanding of how their classes and education changed from prior to having the 1:1 technology to after the technology had been implemented by knowledgeable educators.

e) What educational resources (research, discourses, and conversations) will help you frame this issue, and why?


Educational resources that help frame the issue of lack of technology knowledge in teachers and administrators will focus on the research of Dr. Mishra’s and Koehler’s TPACK model (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). This will be a vital resource because once educators understand the overlap of technology knowledge with pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge, they will understand educational technology is more than just using computers every now and then. They will realize technology can be a tool to help promote lifelong learning.


References:


Drucker, P. (2004). What Makes and Effective Executive. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://d2l.msu.edu/content/US14/CEP/815/US14-CEP-815-730-97EAAP-EL-14-204/Unit%202%20Reading/Drucker,%202004.pdf?_&d2lSessionVal=bf2sMhHszXLYsxeNp3GSGDxGS&ou=97536&_&d2lSessionVal=Gwre4fptLOxgDYHgXEMNlBuwW&ou=97536&_&d2lSessionVal=bW6zqWixzakStFUhPV5ap3dmV&ou=156976


Koehler, M. & Mishra, P. (2009). What is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)?. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70. AACE.