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10 ways to change the minds of tech-reluctant staff

Start small, make training personally relevant, pair staff with knowledgeable co-workers—and keep it fun, readers recommend

10 ways to change the minds of tech-reluctant staff

3. Take small steps.

“The best way to get tech-reluctant teachers/staff/admin to effectively use technology is to provide hands-on training where they are able to experience the technology on their own. We had a school wiki and an in-service where teachers were able to experience some of the great things on their own. I then encouraged them to choose one to implement. By taking small steps and trying it out on their own, teachers are more apt to try it in the classroom. I made sure that our own in-service time was engaging and fun, so that they would see what their students could do.” —Pamela Jimison, principal, Community Christian Schools

“Look for the ‘teachable moment,’ which is sometimes a narrow window of opportunity. When a teacher really needs to know, recognize the opportunity to jump in with ‘let me show you how to…’ followed immediately by ‘this will be easy for you.’ Keep it short and sweet! Teachers/staff/administrators respond better when you show them one tip at a time instead of everything you might know about technology.” —Judi Key, media specialist, Hagood Elementary and Holly Springs Elementary Schools

4. Pair staff members with a knowledgeable co-worker.

“Step 1: One-on-one, hands-on training with a co-worker or peer within the room that the technology will be used. (Peer/co-worker should have something already made for the reluctant staff member to use, like a morning message/meeting or graphic organizer.) Step 2: Have that peer/co-worker available during the time the reluctant staff [member] will be using it (tough in the school environment). Step 3: Encourage and congratulate that staff member at even the smallest successful task. Step 4: Peer/co-worker needs to continuously check on reluctant staff to assess if more training is needed and if staff is comfortable with technology.” —Jacki Kratz, classroom technology specialist

“What we did was to choose the most tech-savvy teacher and give her an extra prep period and a stipend to spend time with these reluctant learners. She speaks the language of teachers and can empathize with their situation. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are planning on expanding this role for next year.” —Rob Bridges, head of school, Muskegon Catholic Central

“I work at a Japanese international school in Hong Kong. Getting teachers, staff, and particularly administrators to use new tech in my school is quite difficult. Our [staff operates under] a mandatory 3-year placement, with teachers shuffled into different grade levels and additional responsibilities every single year, so our staff—with the exception of long-term contract hires like me—have very little time to learn skills outside their new responsibilities. We are also extremely tight for money, so … buying new software, interactive whiteboards, and the like is really difficult. So, getting people to adopt new tech requires not only demonstrable cost savings, but also demonstrable efficiency improvements and very user-friendly interfaces. There is no time or money for extra training, so anything I introduce has to be really easy to use and/or already widely adopted.

“A few years ago, an allied school with an IB curriculum upgraded [its] interactive whiteboards, and my school got a hand-me-down. I’m now teaching my colleagues how they can use the board to save class time, improve student interaction and accessibility. While it’s increased my current workload, I’m quite excited to see my school moving forward with this. Now I just have to be careful to make sure all of the programs I train them on have Japanese versions with an intuitive interface!” —Colin Walke, Japanese International School, Tai Po School, Japanese Section, Hong Kong

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  1. cchater855

    November 21, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Glad to see Phil Shapiro heads the list – he’s always pushing the limits. Found our staff really jumped on those diet sites and learned to navigate swiftly. How they are probably founder members of ‘love yourself as you are’. But he’s right, teachers have priorities and that says a lot about how they function. Good news is, next generation of students will bypass that energy and connect directly (on and offline) with people who will inspire them to push their own learning (I didn’t mean shopping). Rather than continue an expensive psychotherapy back in the ’70′s I opened one eye during a visualisation session and caught my therapist checking his business investments. That saved me a lot of money and I’ve felt better ever since. The students feel the same things – they’re just young, not stupid.

  2. rhp123

    November 25, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I recently observed a few of my fellow educators attend a leadership conference. As a result there has been a trend in dialogue away from technology. This concerns me because the effort to try and get teachers involved in using technology is just getting off the ground. When people responsible for educating educators lose their vision of real world trends we should start to worry. There is no question that providing real world experiences is essential, but the potential to use technology to take students beyond the normal is the point. The business world gets it! It effects their bottom line. As usual the swing of the pendulum sees the reactionary forces in education struggle up to stifle progress.


    December 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    These are really great ideas for helping reluctant staff, especially talented teachers to dare to enter the digital age in their classrooms.
    I have pondered all of the ways we can encourage tech integration, especially for talented teachers. For we know that tech integration basically only magnifies the teachers’ effectiveness. If he/she is a master teacher, the classroom will be greatly enhanced by the integration of technology. If the teacher is marginal, technology integration will likely fragment the focus, and intrude on the purposes of the lesson (if it is even clear in the first place). In an effort to support teachers to integrate technology, we have produced an educational video, Connected Schools: How technology is changing K-12 instruction and connecting learners in the digital world. We highlight strategies that any teacher can integrate into classroom life. Those who are curious can get more details here …