Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Technology Standards Presentation

My primary role as Technology Coordinator is to assist teachers with the creation of lessons and unit plans that take advantage of the technology we have available at TJ. Our school is fortunate to have my technologies that we take for granted which other schools view as a luxury item. This is unfortunate since I believe we actually have what should constitute as the minimum technology set for a school the size of TJ Middle. The Maryland State Board of Education recently implemented a set of technology standards for students, teachers, and administrators. These standards are part of the requirements for No Child Left Behind and are going to be assessed in a manner not yet determined. The irony of the three sets of standards is that the student standards, which are what we are charged with helping students master, are far more rigorous than the teacher and administrator standards. It just seems odd that the people responsible for school improvement have been given inferior standards.

As part of the push to get the standards in front of teachers, I met with each grade level team at TJ Middle to present the standards. I know from experience that when teachers are told that there will be an additional assessment imposed that they feel overwhelmed and sometimes respond in a negative manner. With that in mind, I decided to present that standards and simultaneously brainstorm ways that teachers at TJ Middle are already meeting many of the standards. This method seemed to be effective at quelling some potential backlash against the new standards. It also helped that the assessment of the standards is not set and will be in the future. That probably sent a hidden message to the teachers that the standards are not something to worry about - right now.

I feel that the use of the brainstorming to identify ways teachers are already meeting the standards was an effective strategy. Sometimes professional development is presented as "one more thing to do" and not as "here is a way to tweak what you are already doing" so that you can be more effective. There are, of course, times when it is one more thing to do. But I believe the majority of the time, instructional leaders are simply offering a new perspective or new twist to what teachers are already doing. It would be my goal to make sure that professional development I lead as an administrator would frame the new idea in the context that it is not a brand new idea, but an improvement or new perspective on good instruction.

Technology is often views as one more thing to do. This really is not the case. It is a new skill and that is not something we can avoid. However, the instructional strategies behind the use of technology can be incorporated into almost any of the professional development sessions I have led or in which I have been a participant. My objective will be to always link technology to new professional development ideas whenever it fits logically and is appropriate.

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