In an earlier post (Professional Development Tips) we discussed professional development courses for teachers as presented by noted educational consultant Tom Daccord of learning consultancy EdTech Teacher. Mr Daccord offered six tips that he believed would improve teacher professional development courses leading, of course, to improved teacher classroom effectiveness.
One point he made that we found particularly arresting was his insistence that it was no longer necessary or even wise for teachers to attempt to understand the “nuts and bolts of technology” when dealing with new tech teaching aids. Learning how to operate the new technology, something that students seemed to be able to do almost instinctively, was not as important as having a plan that would insure that these new tools were applied effectively in the classroom. Good pedagogy was to be preferred over technical proficiency. What adult, after all, can move his thumbs as fast as a teenager?
More recently we stumbled over a report that seems to bear out Mr. Daccord’s assertions. It is a Project Tomorrow report entitled Learning in the 21st Century: Digital Experiences and Expectations of Tomorrow’s Teachers, and it says that both new teachers and administrators are unhappy with the way they are being taught.
New teachers are at home with the new technology. They grew up with cell phones and computers. They feel confident dealing with them and with their students. That is to say, unlike past generations of teachers who might have felt the need to play catch up with the new tools, these teachers can use them as well as their students. Unfortunately they are still being instructed in the use of word processors and spreadsheets and very little time is spent learning how best to use the new tools in a classroom environment. Teachers-in-training say they are trained to stay organized rather than how to engage students with the help of the new tech tools.
The new teachers also feel that older, more experienced teachers, being less capable in the use of the new tools, seem to resist attempts to improve on their classroom effectiveness. Principals, hoping for new teachers that can use the new tools more effectively, are also unhappy with the new teachers because they haven’t been exposed to the training both they and the teachers think they should have had.We hope that Tom Deccord’s professional development ideas get a look by teachers and administrators everywhere. With their emphasis on a return to effective pedagogy they could solve some of the disconnect between all the parties. The wave of new digital tools is nowhere near ending. There will be a new one causing new waves every few years and teachers can’t hope to stay ahead of them.
One great technological tool that requires very little training on the part of teachers is our robots. Kids love them. They engage with them instantly. Our RobotsLAB Box, for example, has several robots controlled by a conventional tablet that display math equations evolving in real-time along with the robots.