Friday, May 6, 2016

What Should First Year Teachers Know About Tech Integration?

I recently participated in a #TnTechChat Twitter chat moderated by @TeachTnTech regarding Technology skills needed in preservice teachers. For many of us in the chat we felt that new teachers are not necessarily entering the workforce equipped for a tech-rich classroom. There were a few higher education professors in the discussion that gave a bit of insight into how slowly changes in curriculum often happen in higher Ed courses.

At the end of the chat I shared the following tweet: "I know I'm biased but I think teacher prep students should be aware of blended learning, value of PLN and recent buzzwords to explore." Apparently this tweet resonated with many educators on Twitter because it got an over abundance of love. As this week has progressed I find myself thinking on the subject a lot, and this blog post is a more thought out list of technology knowledge I think preservice teachers should be aware of before entering the workforce:

Blended learning. Technology allows for teachers to have more small group and one on one instruction, something all teachers find value in. Understanding the dynamics, classroom management and benefits of blended learning needs to be on the new teacher's radar.

Technology-based formative assessment options. For centuries teachers have learned the value of formative assessment. Whether it be on the slate or white board or just casual questioning, all teachers love the ability to have feedback after a lesson. There are many different ways teachers can now easily ascertain in real time the learning happening in the classroom. Apps and websites like Kahoot, Socrative, Go Formative, or using school-based LMS quiz solutions allows for more knowledge based on individualized students. I believe this is a game changer for education and can't be ignored.

The value of professional learning networks (PLNs). The collaborative value that Twitter, Google plus, CoffeeEDUs and various other educational online communities bring is invaluable. It should be part of the curriculum for a preservice teacher to learn how to leverage these PLNs for their future learning when they are out of the classroom as a student. PLN's are a great way for teachers to remain lifelong learners.

Buzzwords. I'll be honest this is the one that I have mixed reviews on. I don't believe that every buzzword should be adopted or even considered in every school, I also realize buzzwords don't necessarily have any proof of their effectiveness. I do believe pedagogy trumps technology every day of the week and that technology should never lead instruction. That being said, I also think there is great value in new educators at least being aware of recent buzzword initiatives in education. This hit me at an Edcamp last year when topics of discussion were listed on the board and hands went up all over the room asking things like "what's a makerspace?", "what's augmented reality?", "what does PBL stand for?" While any school they go to may not implement any of those buzzwords, they need to know they exist; and maybe even the pros and cons of these different  teaching methods and tools.

Classroom management skills for a tech-rich environment. I believe a new teacher should enter the work place with lots of ideas to keep students on task, engaged, and learning when technology is present. I think teachers also should have a plan of what to do for off-task students- knowing that individual schools might have their own set of standards of expectation.

How to read website and app data retrieved from student learning and how to value that timely information. So many teachers grade papers for hours on end. As a rule we know this has been a major component of a teacher's day. Technology can change this. If students are using technology such as adaptive learning software options, teachers now will spend less time grading papers but must spend their evenings looking at the results in the technology-based learning. This is a change in teacher culture. If teachers aren't careful, technology stations in a classroom just becomes a thing to do. If we aren't looking at results for assessment purposes, the chances of it being valuable use of instruction time is small.

Experience with someone modeling good technology integration in the classroom. Many times teacher placements happen where preservice teachers never have the opportunity to work in a classroom with much technology or with a mentor teacher that values it. This may be my most aggressive point but I believe every preservice teacher should have one placement that allows them to see what good technology integration looks like. I believe it must be an expectation of the mentor teacher as well.

Technology in the classroom is not going away, in fact companies like Google and Apple are creating opportunities directly for education. As time goes on more and more ways to meet student needs via technology shows positive learning results are happening. Ignoring this side of prepping teachers is not a future ready mindset. We must grow forward to best equipped these future educational technology leaders.


  1. Awesome perspective for pre-service teacher education question! Collaboration between key K-12 tech personnel and collegiate educators in regard to what new teachers need to know and be able to do needs to be ongoing. Communication between the two entities has the potential to really strengthen Teacher Ed programs! Great post!!

  2. Thanks Misty! Your twitter chat topic inspired me to deeper thinking about what I want to make sure student teachers experience here.

  3. I think the college classes taken by the teachers need to involve these uses of technology. Don't teach future teachers that they need to have a hands-on engaging technology-rich classroom by lecturing to them for 4 years!