It’s a given that in order for students to benefit from advanced technology in all areas of the curriculum, all faculty members need to receive extensive training. At Rochelle Township High School (RTHS) in Illinois, we knew it would be pointless to install Pentium-based Windows 95 multimedia computers in each classroom without providing training as well. So when we upgraded our computers during the 1998-99 school year, we committed to training our entire staff at the same time.
We considered several training models: intensive three- or four-week summer sessions, before- or after-school sessions, peer mentoring, and others. Though each method has its own merits, none would enable the entire staff to get extensive training during a single school year.
Nor did any allot the time needed for staff members to become comfortable with the use of technology or to plan for its implementation into their daily lessons. After all, the ultimate goal was not a staff of “techies,” but enhancing the learning of students through the use of technology.
We decided the only way staff could receive adequate training and have adequate time to plan for using these newly learned tools in their teaching was to provide daily training sessions for all staff during the regular school day.
Before the 1998-99 school year, all RTHS teachers taught five periods per day, had one period of study hall or other supervision, and had a preparation period. This year, instead of the study hall or other supervision, each staff member reports to a training class for one period each day.
Non-certified personnel were hired to provide the needed study hall and other supervision. A consultant was hired to teach the teachers during their training period, and one room was designated as the training center and equipped with multimedia computers, printers, scanners, LCD projection panels, TV interfaces, and digital cameras.
The main components of Microsoft Office 97–Word, Excel, and PowerPoint–were among the first topics of the training. We also spent time on the use of a digital camera and scanner to bring images into files and the manipulation of graphic images with Microsoft Photo Editor.
Other topics during the first semester included the use of our internal eMail system, the use of browsers to access information from the internet, and the design and publishing of web pages. Teachers demonstrated their proficiency by developing projects using these tools.
During the second semester, much of the emphasis will be on techniques that integrate technology into teaching. Engaged learning was the topic that opened the second semester. The faculty simulated the steps involved in an actual engaged learning unit. In March, we plan to have a “Software Fair” with various vendors of educational software available to demonstrate their products. Before that, we will discuss proper evaluation of software in the training sessions.
A group of faculty members representing the various departments meets regularly with the training consultant to discuss concerns, evaluate progress, and plan for further training. As with any project that involves 65 or 70 people, there are some teachers who would prefer not to be a part of the training, but the overwhelming response of the faculty is positive.
In addition to the direct benefits in the area of technology, there have been some indirect benefits as well, such as increased camaraderie among the staff, increased awareness of the activities of other departments, and an increased awareness of the opportunities for inter-disciplinary tasks.
If you are interested in further information, please contact Marty Brennan at RTHS, (815) 562-4161, x418, or send eMail to firstname.lastname@example.org.