Increasing teacher capacity by using technology to communicate, collaborate and reflect.

by Jerry Anderson

All Grades

Introduction

When it comes to using best practices, we get every stakeholder involved – teachers, students, and community members – and ask them to use new tools in many different ways. We use online platforms in three broad ways – to communicate, collaborate, and reflect. And importantly, I have the whole-hearted support of my principal to use these tools in teacher practice as a way to model it for students.

-We use a site like Populr.me to make communication more efficient and less threatening to teachers who may be less comfortable using computers. It enables you to put links to several apps in one place and make moving from one to another seamless.

-We put collaboration technologies at the center of the school’s decision-making process. If we need to all input in advance of a school-wide meeting, we ask everyone to post their ideas in advance so we all know what everyone else feels about an issue. Then, when we get together to meet, we can hit the ground running and have a more substantive discussion about what is most important to people.

-For reflection, I use an integrated Google doc to notate what I see in the classroom. Teachers can then respond to my comments in advance of us meeting to discuss classroom practice together.

What results from faculty and administration using these tools in their own practice, is a clearer, more practical recognition of the value of these tools for students to communicate, collaborate, and reflect.

NOTE: This strategy contributed by Jerry Anderson and Kristin Donley

Reflections

What I did well…

A differentiated strategy was the best approach to support and encourage teachers in their use of technology. Teachers had the opportunity to self-select professional development opportunities tailored for beginner, intermediate, or advanced users of technology.  This approach took away some of the fear and encouraged and supported teachers to train at their pace and comfort level. It also let teachers know that it was okay to be in different places.

What I would do more of or differently…

I would have continued to assess ongoing professional development needs, and offer more opportunities for new staff and for staff who had a more challenging time learning how to successfully use technology.  For all staff, I would have also continued to tie our efforts back to our school mission and vision to keep staff aware of the “whys” of our work together as well as giving more acknowledgement of work well done.

I still want to grow this practice by…

I will continue to grow this practice by 1) Being a learner and taking advantage of professional development opportunities for tech leaders; 2) Implementing a systematic way of assessing needs of staff and determining how well those needs are being met; and 3) Modeling, providing support to get the right tech tools into the right hands.

About Jerry Anderson

Dr. Jerry Lee Anderson has taught a variety of subjects from grade four to the postgraduate level in both general and special education. As a middl...

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