What sort of technology facilitator to teacher ratio are you advocating? One to 100 for example? One to a year level? One to a school section? Given that most schools, from what I can tell, have not embraced this position(s) as worthwhile….(what, not have your own classes!) I suggest you could come up with some suggestions as to what the facilitator model can look like. How many classes/students do you cater for? Is it too many? Also, administration structure…who makes the decisions? How powerful are YOU in your school? It would be interesting to compare notes on this.
This has been a very big decision at our school – just how much time is enough time to facilitate the integration of technology into our core classrooms?
Let me start with a little background about our school:
Right now we are focusing on the middle school to pilot our integration program. We are also integrating at the elementary and high school level, but the schedule has not been as flexible so most of the “pioneering” is being done at the middle school level. Here is the breakdown:
- Our middle school has about 180 students.
- Each grade level has 4 sections of about 15 students each (meaning 4 math classes, 4 social studies classes, 4 English classes and 4 science classes).
- We operate on a 6-day rotating block schedule, meaning each day has 4 classes in 90-minute blocks, each student takes a total of 8 classes and each class meets every other day.
- There are about 20 middle school teachers (several of whom also teach high school classes).
- Teachers are required to teach 5 blocks (out of the 8 total blocks) to be full time.
- We have 4 computer labs (1 is dedicated for middle school use) and 3 laptop carts (1 is dedicated for middle school use).
- Each classroom has one “teacher’s” computer and some have 3 “student computers” (oh, how I hate those terms).
This year I am 60% IT teacher (teaching those wonderful 9-week exploratory classes to 6th, 7th and 8th grade) and 40% Facilitator, which means I teach 3 blocks out of the required 5 blocks that all full time teachers teach. The other blocks are free for co-teaching and planning integration projects with other teachers. Although this has been a great year, and we’ve laid the groundwork for next year, 40% is clearly not enough time.
Our plan for next year:
The middle school IT Facilitator will be 100% facilitation. The middle school IT exploratory classes will be canceled and 1 elective will take its place. This means that students are no longer required to attend any IT classes during their middle school years as it is expected that IT will be fully integrated into the curriculum. However, they will have the opportunity to take an elective class to learn about technology topics that may not be covered in the core curriculum (although I won’t be teaching here next year, I have some fun ideas about where that class can go).
This means that we will have:
- 1 full time Facilitator (with no scheduled classes) for 20 teachers and 200 students working only with middle school classes (6-8).
- A clear and documented mandate for technology integration which gives the Facilitator some authority over which projects are implemented.
- A set framework which clearly outlines that every technology integration project must go through the Facilitator (who then liaises with the Student Services Coordinator and Librarian).
- A public forum for documenting technology integration projects making it very clear to see who is participating and who is not.
We put all of these structures in place after observing how the process went this year. We realized that teachers need one-on-one support in order to effectively and appropriately integrate technology in their classroom, which means that the Facilitator needs more time to work with these teachers during the school day. We also realized that, although we have a lot of equipment, having scheduled classes in the lab blocks out many core classes from every utilizing the computers. Removing those scheduled classes will greatly free up our available resources.
One of my major complaints all year has been the lack of any authority given to the Facilitator. In reality, I am a teacher, equal to all of the other teachers, which means I have no right to request that teachers conduct certain projects or to ask them to modify their teaching strategies when working with technology. All I can do is advise.
This has put me in quite a few awkward situations this year, especially considering that technology integration is totally voluntary at this point. Teachers were not mandated to use technology this year, they were just encouraged. This meant that I only worked with teachers that were interested (which was very nice for me, but is clearly not fair for the students).
We have dealt with this issue by putting in place a mandate requiring teachers to integrate technology. We’ve had training sessions with the core teachers to present and discuss the mandate and to clarify expectations for next year. This should help with the authority issue.
Many of the teachers that were not successful with technology integration this year did not really understand how the whole process works. We had a few teachers assigning technology rich projects “for homework” and others who just never did anything because they didn’t know where to start. We tried to resolve this issue by creating a clear framework which outlines exactly what each person is responsible for. We are trying to put an achievable process in place so that everyone is clear on exactly how to go about integrating technology.
What kind of structures does your school have in place for the IT Facilitator’s role?
Image 1: http://www.iaqu.net/images/content/building%20blocks.jpg