Differentiated Technology Integration PD for Educators

ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Collaborator

Coaches establish productive relationships with educators in order to improve instructional practice and learning outcomes. Coaches:

d.Personalize support for educators by planning and modeling the effective use of technology to improve student learning.

While teachers are expected to differentiate their instruction to meet their students’ needs, too often we treat professional learning differently than we treat student learning. Differentiation has not been modeled well in most of the professional developments for educators, especially in technology integration professional developments. How to ensure coaches and leaders differentiate and personalize educators’ training and professional developments in learning technology to meet the needs of educators with different knowledge and backgrounds in technology?

According to Randi and Zeichner (2005), the current emphasis on accountability for student performance on national and state tests has been directing some schools to select particular curriculum interventions and research-based practices they deem most likely to improve instruction and increase student achievement and then design staff development programs around the content of those interventions. In order to “demonstrate immediate results, schools may pay more attention to “what works” in the short term than to research findings about

how best to design and sustain teacher professional learning opportunities for the continuing growth of both teachers and students” (Randi & Zeichner, 2005, p180). 

Randi and Zeichner argued that although focused staff development activities designed to introduce or sustain the implementation of a common curriculum may build organizational capacity and unite teachers around the shared visions of the organization, they provide teachers little choice about their own professional learning and little autonomy in instructional decisions, which limits teachers’ choices about their own learning and limits their access to knowledge and may leave them with an insufficient knowledge (Randi & Zeichner, 2005, p194)

According to the Center for Public Education’s Teaching the Teachers report, almost all teachers participate in PD throughout the year. However, a majority of those teachers find the PD in which they participate ineffective.Therefore, Zdonek(2016) suggested that the following simple but effective strategies to improve teacher professional development sessions through differentiation:

1. Gauge teachers’ readiness by taking a survey of teachers to see what they know about a professional development topic, and how skilled they consider themselves in that area. This information will also allow you to tailor the PD session to meet teacher needs, designing smaller group sessions with flexible groupings to instruct teachers at their varying readiness levels.

2. Utilize teachers’ interests by taking some time to figure out what teachers themselves want to improve upon. When they work on areas of their interest, they’re more likely to be engaged, making the work more productive — just like with students.

3. Get teachers involved by allowing teachers that have skills or experience to run smaller group sessions. It provides leadership opportunities for teachers and develops a sense of ownership over the school improvement process.

4. Provide opportunities for continual assessment by providing time for teachers to discuss and reflect on how they are incorporating the given area of development into their classroom practice. Have opportunities for feedback, allow teachers to set goals, provide continuous support, and assess progress toward the goals they’ve set.

In addition to these general PD strategies, we might also want to look specifically into professional development focusing on technology integration for educators. The goal of successful technology professional development is its integration into teaching to impact student learning. Teachers are participating in technology learning professional development with different readiness and background. 

https://www.nysut.org/~/media/files/nysut/resources/2011/march/educators-voice-4-technology/edvoiceiv_ch7.pdf?la=en

Professional development provides educators the opportunity to understand new advancements and adapt their teaching styles and pedagogy to make effective use of available educational enhancements. How to ensure these PDs are customized to meet educators’ needs? Moynihan (2014) recommended the following 7 tips for integrating technology professional development. 

  • Provide ongoing support by delivering immediately usable solutions to the daily challenges that teachers will face when making major curricular changes in their subject areas.
  • Promote understanding of technology pedagogical practices by providing extensive training in both pedagogy and technology.
  • Encourage teacher participation because teachers who participate in a PD program that includes coaching or mentoring are more likely to implement new instructional methods.
  • Adopt a learner‐centered pedagogy because technology is less effective when used to support traditional “teacher‐centered” pedagogies, which tend to use technology as a supplement rather than as a core element of instruction.
  • Provide access to online information repositories that offer teachers continuous and convenient access to relevant teaching resources.
  • School structure should be “policies, practices, culture, and funding” to facilitate the integration of educational technology.
  • Make use of the technologies that teachers will be using. The ISTE notes that “learning with technology is more important than learning about technology.” Teachers benefit by seeing what and how they can learn through available technological tools.

Mazzella(2011) suggested technology can make a difference in supporting student learning, however, this cannot happen by merely providing classrooms with the latest equipment. Instructional technology integration will occur across all grade levels and in all content areas when it is supported by professional development that is differentiated and sustained over time.

References 

Randi, J. and Zeichner, K. (2005). New Visions of Teacher Professional Development. 

Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education 103(1):180 – 227. Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kenneth-Zeichner/publication/227988786_New_Visions_of_Teacher_Professional_Development/links/573f43e808aea45ee844fb32/New-Visions-of-Teacher-Professional-Development.pdf

Zdonek, P. (2016). Why Don’t We Differentiate Professional Development?. Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-dont-we-differentiate-pd-pauline-zdonek

Moynihan, A. (2014) 7 PD tips for your instructional technology integration plan. Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from https://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/07/10/professional-development-technology-922/

Mazzella, N, (2011). What are We Learning About Technology Integration and Professional Development? Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from https://www.nysut.org/~/media/files/nysut/resources/2011/march/educators-voice-4-technology/edvoiceiv_ch7.pdf?la=en

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