10 ways to change the minds of tech-reluctant staff

"Removing technology from its stature as something mystical and powerful is something I stress to whomever I'm working with," says one reader.

We often hear about tech-savvy educators and administrators who have an array of best practices and whose love for technology is evident. But as anyone who’s ever been part of a school or district knows, not all teachers and administrators are as comfortable or familiar with technology.

In a recent “Question of the Week,” we asked our tech-savvy readers: “How do you get tech-reluctant teachers and administrators to use technology effectively?” Here are our readers’ top answers (edited for brevity).

1. Use technology for personal reasons first.

“To get educational staff on board with tech, encourage and support them using tech for their non-work purposes. As soon as they develop comfort using tech for their personal purposes, that comfort level will easily transfer to work situations.” —Phil Shapiro, former instructional technology coordinator, Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, Va.

2. Emphasize how it helps them specifically.

“As a principal, I make time to offer and teach the [professional development] myself. I make the training mandatory and ensure that I do the trainings in a helping tone as opposed to an administrative tone. If teachers feel comfortable integrating the technology, and feel as though they are supported, they are more willing to incorporate it [with] ‘buy-in’ as opposed to ‘something we have to do.’ I also, as much as I can, go into classrooms and model lessons using technology. I try to make a point to emphasize to the teachers that time on task increases learning for students. Engagement = student success. Technology, when implemented correctly in classrooms, can yield large amounts of time on task!” —Dr. Chris Marczak, principal, McGavock Elementary

“During the past 12 years, and through all of the technology changes we have encountered, I have found that the most effective way to get others to effectively use technology is by modeling. First, you need to figure out where technology can be used in their classroom and to assist in their role as an educator. Second, find technology resources that can be effectively used for that particular educator. Lastly, model and demonstrate how the technology can be used effectively – if you can’t model it, then find someone else who can! Once teachers realize that effectively using technology will help them teach and be a more effective educator, then the reluctance gradually fades away.” —Jeff Duncan, assistant principal, Highland Springs High School, Henrico County Public Schools, Va.

“I have been presented with tech applications that could be used in hundreds of different ways and have been hurried through a presentation with a presenter who is trying to meet the needs of forty or fifty different educators who teach at levels ranging from pre-K to grade 12. [I would like it] if presenters were to follow the cycle of effective instruction by first beginning with narrow, focused presentations; and second, by training in shorter, more frequent sessions that include plenty of time for guided practice, and end by providing a well-developed lesson or activity that can be used  immediately upon returning to the classroom. Technology training should be followed up with on-site peer support. One-size-fits-all in-service doesn’t work.” —Terrie Alger, reading facilitator, Pablo Elementary School

Meris Stansbury

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