Near the beginning of my career, I spent two years as a part-time ADST support teacher. My job was to take technology-related trainings and support the teachers’ use of ICT in the classroom. I loved it! This experience is actually one of the reasons I want to become a teacher-librarian.
I can narrow down my knowledge of supporting teachers’ ICT curriculum and pedagogy to two main ideas: work hard to build relationships with teachers and use the same teaching strategies you would use in the classroom.
“…first the relationship, then the job.” (Toor and Weisburg, p. 93)
Building a strong relationship with the teachers is the best way to support them because it means they will come to you when they need help (or be open to your ideas when you go to them). It’s easy to get frustrated when it feels like teachers won’t ask for help with a new tool, or when I approach them with a great idea and get told they just don’t have time, or even occasionally when I’ve found out a teacher has been struggling for something for months and never come to me to ask for help. But instead of blaming the teachers, I try to remember that it really means I need to spend more time developing a relationship with them. People will talk to friends when they need support, but why would they think to approach someone they don’t know well?
Here are some ideas I use to build relationships with teachers:
(Note: Many of these ideas are also from Toor and Weisburg.)
- Go to them first. Spend time where teachers hang out and get to know them. Go to the staff room at lunch, join the Survivor pool (even if you don’t watch Survivor), bring your morning tea to a different classroom each morning and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.
- Don’t always talk about work, collaboration, or the newest tool you’ve discovered. While that’s interesting sometimes, just chatting about life is also an important way to get to know someone on a more personal level.
- Listen to teachers’ needs and act on them quickly. When teachers feel their voices are heard, they are much more likely to continue to ask.
- Help with things that may not be part of your job. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard “I know you’re busy with your own work but….” This alone has made the biggest difference in my ability to support other teachers. If people see me as helpful in one way, they are more willing to look to me for help in other ways. And quite often it’s also followed with “while you’re here, I also need help with, or I also have a question about..(job related task!)”
- Find ways to bring people into the library. Provide tea or snacks during breaks, offer to hold staff meetings, or even have a place set up where teachers can work. “The more time they spend there without their students, the greater the likelihood that they will discover what the SLP has to offer.” (Toor and Weisburg, p. 65)
Finally, I also found this infographic about building team relationships. And really, aren’t we all working as a team? The idea from this that stood out the most to me was building trust. When people are learning something new, they need to trust the person teaching them.
ICT Teaching Strategies
“I guess my biggest piece of advice that I could offer after six years of being an integration specialist is that we need to saturate our teachers with multiple learning opportunities.” (Craig Badura via Gonzalez)
Just as teachers are expected to use a variety of teaching and learning strategies in their classrooms, I also try to use these same strategies during professional development. In a profession that is overwhelmingly busy and constantly changing, it can feel like there just isn’t time to learn and use new ICT tools. But when the learning is made enjoyable and directly relevant to the teachers, they are more likely to give it a try.
“I try to make anything I create for teachers…relevant to them so that they can really walk away with that and use it tomorrow. Or that they might say, ‘That really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.’” (Craig Badura via Gonzalez)
Here are some strategies I use for professional development for teachers:
- Engage teachers in their learning. Instead of demonstrating tools, use a hands-on task that gets teachers involved with the tool. Better yet, have teachers create something they can use the next day in their classroom. (Gonzales) Even providing coffee and snacks will make the event more enjoyable.
- Make learning timely. Knowing the teachers’ year plans will enable you to teach tools just as they might need them. (Toor and Weisburg, p. 98) It’s much easier for a teacher to agree to professional development or collaboration for an upcoming topic than something they don’t yet need to use. Also, avoid report card and other busy times when teachers are already feeling overstretched.
- Make professional development directly relevant to each teacher. The best advice I can give when you want teachers to learn about something new is to make them want to learn about it. I do this by offering to teach a lesson or run an activity with their class first (Toor and Weisburg). When they see how amazing the tech tool is, or how engaged their students are, they will want to learn it themselves. The key to this approach: I make sure there is little to no work involved for the teacher so they can’t say no. I even target lessons to meet particular standards I know the teacher isn’t confident or doesn’t enjoy teaching.
If this isn’t an option, then show teachers an activity or video of students using the tool in action. Then follow up with other ideas (or samples) of how this tool might be used in the classroom to get teachers thinking about their own classroom.
- Differentiate. There’s nothing worse than sitting through professional development for something you already know and feeling like you’ve learned nothing. I try to have an interesting use or highlight an interesting feature of the tool that I think nobody will know. I also use experienced teachers as partners for teachers I know will struggle and refer to them for suggestions and tips. This is a strategy Gonzales refers to as ‘Force Multiply’ in her article.
- Provide all the resources they need. Part of the TL role is the curation of print and digital resources (Kris). For professional development, this might mean having a list of the links they need to use the tool you just taught. I always provide some sort of tutorial (videos, links, or documents) that teachers can refer to later.
- Talk it up. Enthusiasm spreads. If you are excited to use the tool, the people you are teaching will be more excited to learn it. Something I’ve done to drum up enthusiasm for a new technology tool is to highlight it at a staff meeting or in a staff email/newsletter.
Finally, in this TEDx talk, Kristin Daniels discusses the three types of teachers – those who are afraid of new technology, teachers who are comfortable learning new technology with a little support, and the experienced technology lovers. She explains that just learning about a new tool isn’t enough – teachers need time and support to do it themselves.
Tell me about one way you support the ICT curriculum or pedagogy of your teachers. Do you have any advice for building strong relationships that keep teachers coming back to you when they need support? Have you run a particularly great training?
Daniels, Kristen. “Empowering the teacher technophobe: Kristin Daniels at TEDxBurnsvilleED.” YouTube, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puiNcIFJTCU.
Gonzales, Jennifer. “How to Plan Outstanding Tech Training for Your Teachers.” Cult of Pedagogy, 2016, https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/tech-training-for-teachers/.
Kris. “12 Ways A School Librarian Can Help Teachers.” 2 Peas and a Dog: Middle School Teaching Resources, 2018, https://2peasandadog.com/2018/07/12-ways-a-school-librarian-can-help-teachers.html.
Lawrence, Japhet and Tar, Usman. “Factors that influence teachers’ adoption and integration
of ICT in teaching/learning process.” Educational Media International, 2018, 55(1), pp. 79-105, https://doi.org/10.1080/09523987.2018.1439712.
The Teamwork Team. “Infographic: 10 Ways to Build Team Relationships.” Teamwork.com, 2016, https://blog.teamwork.com/infographic-10-ways-build-team-relationships/.
Toor, R., & Weisburg, H. K. “Chapter 6: Reaching Your Teachers.” New on the job: A school library media specialist’s guide to success. 2nd edition, 2012, Chicago: American Library Association, p. 88-107.
Thank you also to Christopher Lee for his post that brought to my attention two great resources: http://blogs.ubc.ca/chrislee/2018/06/08/supporting-our-staff-and-community-with-ict/.
7 thoughts on “Inquiry Project Week 3: Supporting Teachers’ ICT Curriculum and Pedagogy”
That is great that you have previous experience that you can directly transfer to a teacher-librarian role. In a day and age where so much changes so quickly,
I really like that you focused this post on two areas, in particular that we need to teach teachers using strategies we use in the classroom. This seems obvious but is something I often forget about. During our recent pro-d on collaboration, the teachers leading it modeled strategies (good hooks, provocations leading to good discussions, etc.) that we should be using as teachers and it served as a good reminder. I think that is a great idea to run it with a teacher’s class first so they can see it in action and get a better idea of what it is about. Do you find that teachers are receptive to this?
I went to a pro d event a couple weeks ago where they began with a provocation as a model for working with students. We all enjoyed experiencing the strategy and I felt it helped me settle in and get in the frame of mind. I’ve also enjoyed sessions that included other strategies like storytelling, hands-on activities, and discussions.
I think teachers will be receptive to these kind of strategies because they make our own learning more enjoyable too.
Great ideas to build relationships and engage staff in in-service learning! I really liked your suggestion of creating a space for teachers to work in the learning commons – I know I’ve often preferred the Learning Commons to the staff room to work (I’m just so much more productive there!). We put so much thought and care into the design and organization of our learning commons, it would be nice for teachers to get to benefit too!
I also really liked your trips about suporting teachers professional development. I had thought about having a list of resources easily accessible for the staff, but I love your suggestion of including tutorials and guides along with it.
The support I would offer would be similar to yours- build relationships, and make sure your conversations aren’t ALL about the students and the curriculum. People want to know you’re a real person too!
Thanks Kelli! I used to be a computer teacher and didn’t have access to my room (the computer lab) during my preps. Staff rooms can be very difficult to work in so it’s nice to have somewhere else to go. A work space in the learning commons also places teachers near you and the professional resources – hopefully they will make use of both.
Having a list of resources is a great idea! It takes much less time to browse a list, particularly if organized well, then browsing the shelves or searching for them online. I keep a Symbaloo of tech tools, but it might be good to add a tab for professional development resources too.
A great post that cuts to the chase and gets to the point in discussing the importance of relationships as a vehicle to support, collaboration and exploration. You’ve done a good job in describing strategies, approaches and resources for engaging with your colleagues and community in order to better support their growth in professional practice and pedagogy. Excellent reminders, important cautions and helpful guides all make this an excellent post that all will appreciate. I agree with all your points and found it very helpful.
I agree with your 2 main points of supporting teachers with ICT skills (building relationships and using the same teaching strategies that we would in the classroom). I think that both are equally important when working on new learning with colleagues.
I appreciate how you turned a potentially negative outlook of feeling frustrated when coworkers don’t seem interested in learning new skills into a positive spin by acknowledging that perhaps that means spending more time developing relationships is needed. When we’re all so busy it’s easy to lose sight of that. Thanks for the reminder:)
Sometimes I need that extra reminder too, especially when it feels like I don’t have enough time to work on building relationships. But it’s always worth the time in the end.
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