Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Using Technology: Change in Student Teacher Roles

When students are using technology as a tool or a support for communicating with others, they are in an active role rather than the passive role of recipient of information transmitted by a teacher, textbook, or broadcast. The student is actively making choices about how to generate, obtain, manipulate, or display information. Technology use allows many more students to be actively thinking about information, making choices, and executing skills than is typical in teacher-led lessons. Moreover, when technology is used as a tool to support students in performing authentic tasks, the students are in the position of defining their goals, making design decisions, and evaluating their progress.

The teacher's role changes as well. The teacher is no longer the center of attention as the dispenser of information, but rather plays the role of facilitator, setting project goals and providing guidelines and resources, moving from student to student or group to group, providing suggestions and support for student activity. As students work on their technology-supported products, the teacher rotates through the room, looking over shoulders, asking about the reasons for various design choices, and suggesting resources that might be used.

Project-based work (such as the City Building Project and the Student-Run Manufacturing Company) and cooperative learning approaches prompt this change in roles, whether technology is used or not. However, tool uses of technology are highly compatible with this new teacher role, since they stimulate so much active mental work on the part of students. Moreover, when the venue for work is technology, the teacher often finds him or herself joined by many peer coaches--students who are technology savvy and eager to share their knowledge with others

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Technology Leadership

Knowledgeable and effective school leaders are extremely important in determining whether technology use will improve learning for all students. Many school administrators may be uncomfortable providing leadership in technology areas, however. They may be uncertain about implementing effective technology leadership strategies in ways that will improve learning, or they may believe their own knowledge of technology is inadequate to make meaningful recommendations. Because technology is credited as being a significant factor in increasing productivity in many industries, some people believe that more effective use of technology in schools could do more to improve educational opportunities and quality. Research indicates that while there are poor uses of technology in education, appropriate technology use can be very beneficial in increasing educational productivity (Byrom & Bingham, 2001; Clements & Sarama, 2003; Mann, Shakeshaft, Becker, & Kottkamp, 1999; Valdez, McNabb, Foertsch, Anderson, Hawkes, & Raack, 2000; Wenglinsky, 1998). How connected are you to technology in your school district?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mentoring and coaching promote collegiality/student achievement

The number of teachers leaving the profession is increasing, according to a May 2006 study from the National Education Association. The study looked at trends in the teaching industry in the past five years: About half of new teachers quit within the first five years because of poor working conditions and low salaries. Twenty percent of teachers say unsatisfactory working conditions keep them from wanting to stay in the profession, while 37 percent blame low pay for their decision to quit. Nationwide, more than 3.9 million teachers will be needed by 2014 because of teacher attrition, retirement and increased student enrollment. School districts across South Dakota continued to be affected by the loss of teachers as they leave the field for early in their careers for other jobs.

A consensus is growing among policy makers, administrators, researchers, and professional organizations, that educational improvement occurs when schools promote the professionalization of teachers. Effective schools research has linked collaborative activities and collegiality among teachers with gains in student learning. Consequently, programs such as peer coaching and mentoring are being widely advocated. From "Research Update", Institute for Educational Research, Glen Ellyn, IL, USA. These programs are being advocated because they provide the support teachers need to be successful thus keeping them in the field of education. You might read this article for a detailed report about mentoring and coaching. http://www.mentors.net/03library/collab_pc.html.

Successful teacher induction programs have strong mentoring programs supported by coaching. The coaching process provides structure, tools and processes allowing mentors to have conversations that encourage and stimulate teachers to grow as a person and within the education community. Evidence-based research links cognitive coaching with an increase in student achievement as collegiality among teachers deepens.