Technology can be intimidating, frustrating, and overwhelming. It constantly changes and new developments are coming all the time! Devices, websites, and theories change exponentially and innovators need to be able to adapt and transfer their skills from one tool to the next. There is no flow chart, step by step directions, or guide that is available today. This frustrates people. It really frustrates educators who have become dependent upon the aforementioned guides. The ugly truth is that educators are perfectionist and the fear of making a mistake, not having complete control over a lesson, or even experiencing failure can be paralyzing.
What can we do to make educators more willing to become early adopters and innovators in their classrooms? First and foremost, we must give them time to explore in a safe and nonthreatening environment. Sadly, in some districts this never happens. Instead educators get a 15 minute intro to a tool during a faculty meeting or an inservice training and then are expected to muddle through a trial of the tool live, in front of an audience of students. No pressure there!
Second, we must offer differentiated trainings, courses, and staff development that will allow educators to obtain professional development at their level of need. If educators are continually thrown into cookie cutter, one-sized-fits-all, trainings they will either be bored and gain nothing or be overwhelmed and frustrated by the pace of the workshop. Nothing helps an educator transfer from a novice to an innovator more than differentiating and meeting them at their level of readiness. We do it for our students, why do we refuse to differentiate for educators willing to try new tools when given the training they need?
When an educator sees a menu of technology workshops available for professional development differentiated by interest and readiness, technology training suddenly has greater buy in than ever before. If I am tech savvy I can apply and explore tools which I am familar with or perhaps explore new tools, projects, and methods to alter my lessons to move up the SAMR model. If I am a tech newbie, or tech intimidated put me in a level 1 workshop and allow me to doggy paddle into a new tool, teach me what the SAMR model is, or let me learn how to develop a PLN and explore the learning I can do online.
Taking a technology course is always an option too. However, there is always the fear of getting in over one’s head. Explore your options. There are a lot of courses designed for beginners.
Sometimes, your first baby step leads to an unexpected journey into technology innovation. So whether it’s a training, a course, or a new tool… take that first step!