The following are a list of suggestions I have for anyone helping a teacher to learn a technology application in a one-on-one or small group setting. The following are based on the philosophy of helping to make the teacher independent in technology use.
Explain how this application will benefit their students’ learning. Do not hype the benefits of the program but do be realistic. Inspiration helps in organizing ideas. Students who use it do not necessarily become great writers.
Provide meaningful exemplars . Showing elementary teachers an example from high school is not very meaningful. Showing the teachers a Science web when they all teach English is not very meaningful. Have the examples show higher level thinking skills, not simply factual information. Show many diverse examples.
Never touch the teacher’s computer. Always have the teacher use the keyboard as you talk the teacher through it. You can point to a key but you do not touch it. If you are repeating a command that you have previously done, wait to see if the teacher can remember it before you begin pointing.
Always focus on the most common uses of the program. For example, teaching “RapidFire” in Inspiration is a very common use of the program. I once watched a trainer teach every minor command in Inspiration even though the trainer did not teach “RapidFire.”
Build on skills. Have the teachers create mini-projects that incorporate previous commands/skills. “Let’s close down Inspiration and have you start from the beginning to create a timeline.”
Have the teachers create something real for their classroom. Making a web of their vacation plans may be motivating for teachers but they probably will not encounter many of the issues that they would if they were applying it to their classroom. If they create materials for their students, they feel that they are being productive.
Identify common mistakes in using the program. “Make sure to click on the appropriate box before you go to change the shape….Remember the graphic cannot be edited, so save the original file.” It is the tiny little things that stop teachers dead in their tracks so build those into your “training.”
Help the teachers brainstorm classroom uses. Before you end the session, have the teachers brainstorm various ways they can (will) use it in their classroom. Have the teachers share their ideas with each other. You can suggest ways to make the use even more educational powerful.
Volunteer to support them in their class as they use it. Do not teach the lesson for them. Be there to gently guide them if they need help. An exception is if you teach the first class and then they teach all the other classes. The purpose is for them to be independent, not dependent on you.
Check in with the teachers and be available for help as they continue on their own. You can call, email, IM, or videoconference with the teachers to provide additional support and to encourage them to do more advanced projects. One teacher and I exchanged three emails as she moved to a more complex project.
How do you help your teachers to be independent in their technology use?
© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007