One of the challenges of an integrated technology program is the fact that some responsibility for teaching essential technology concepts is placed on the shoulders of teachers who are not specialists in that field. Although adopting (or creating your own) technology standards is a step in the right direction, those statements are often general enough to leave room for uncertainty, especially for those teachers that don’t have a special interest in technology. This can lead to situations where classroom teachers feel that they lack guidance or concrete expectations about how to authentically and appropriately embed technology into their curriculum in a way that’s relevant to students and deepens their learning, which in turn leads to frustration and confusion.
In schools that are fortunate to have technology facilitators, often this kind of confusion is resolved through conversation and collaboration. However, even in those schools, usually there’s not enough time in the day for the facilitator to be able to support every single teacher. And even if there were enough facilitators to work closely with every single teacher, it’s simply not sustainable or advisable to place all of the essential knowledge about such a critical subject in the hands of one or two specialists. Although many teachers appreciate the personal support of a technology facilitator, it should be possible for individual teachers to get a sense of what they could or should be doing without having to go through a “gatekeeper.”
Having been a technology facilitator for 10 years now, I had always thought that individualized, personal conversations were the best way to help teachers embed technology into their classroom practice. While I still believe that collaborative planning and teaching is by far the most effective approach, I’m also realizing that having a clearly defined and readily accessible set of examples of classroom experiences, alongside a set of standards, would not only help teachers understand what’s expected of them, but would also provide an approachable starting point for conversations with teachers who may be unsure where to start.
So, here at ISB, we’ve decided to adapt and revise the ISTE Learner Profiles so that they reflect specific examples of units being done here at school. Currently, the general profiles provided by ISTE, which are broken down by division, provide basic examples of age-appropriate learning experiences (which meet the NET*S standards) that teachers can use to develop projects at their grade level. Of course, these examples are quite broad and don’t include samples of student work. So, we’re hoping that by documenting, on the ISB21 wiki, these types of experiences that are happening at our school, with links to completed student work, unit planners, and feedback from teachers, our faculty will feel they have a strong starting point for planning new projects (and implementing those that are currently part of our curriculum).
We’re just in the begining stages, but the ISB21 team will start this documentation process by linking and describing the projects we have collaborated on here at ISB, on the ISB21 wiki:
Next, we will ask the CoETaIL cohort teachers to share other projects that they may be working on independently. Finally, we will bring the profiles to the rest of the school community and ask them to contribute as well. In the end we hope to have an easily accessible, frequently updated, relevant and specific list of projects that meet our Technology and Information Literacy standards (TaILs) that all teachers can use to guide their planning, spark their interest, and start conversations.
Do you have these kinds of Learner Profiles at your school? Are they helpful? How do you build or clarify shared expectations for authentic, technology-rich student experiences with the faculty at your school?