Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Teacher Concerns About 1:1 Learning

So...the school system I work in is going to be giving every middle school student a Chromebook this fall. What's really interesting about this whole thing is that the adults working with these students aren't being given Chromebooks too. As an administrator, I was lucky enough to get one to play with for two weeks. The teachers got to play with them in a "petting zoo" environment hosted by our technology integrator. I made it a point to make sure I did a LOT of classroom observations on it (we currently use Observation 360) and showcased it to the teachers during each post-observation conference. Thankfully, our school system has been very proactive in providing teachers with several experiences to learn more about how Google Drive works.

Since I've found out that students are getting Chromebooks, I've been asking the following question during post-observation conferences:

"How will this lesson look different when every student in your class has a Chromebook in front of them?"

This one question sparked a LOT of conversation. Language arts teachers talked about using Google docs for peer editing. Social studies teachers brought up the ability to research current events, attend virtual field trips, and create presentations without having to book lab time. Virtual labs were the center of conversation among science teachers, and math teachers were excited about using videos like Kahn academy as part of the spiral review process. Teachers have even started administering student assessments through Edmodo and Google Forms.

There were also some very genuine concerns:

  • Will I receive additional training to teach in this new way? 
  • Will students be able to take their state assessments on a Chromebook? (while laptops are OK for testing purposes, Chromebooks are still being decided upon.)
  • What happens when a student breaks/misplaces their Chromebook? 
  • Will there be a schoolwide procedure for keeping students' Google Drive folders organized? 
  • How much "hacking" can be done to a Chromebook? 
  • Will I be expected to teach everything using the Chromebook? 

Two things help ease these concerns:

  1. Keep the Lines of Communication Open - Having conversations with teachers regarding their anticipations and concerns over this initiative helps in a couple of different ways. First, acknowledging an individual's concern can greatly help decrease the anxiety that person may be feeling in any situation. Also these conversations are wonderful opportunities to find out what any common fears may be. That qualitative data can then be used to put together professional development sessions that are relevant to the needs of your staff members. 
  2. Understand that it's OK to say "I Don't Know" - Depending on how your school division manages its resources and implements its programs, you may not necessarily know how everything is going to work. If someone asks you a question, and you don't know the answer, say "I don't know. Can you give me some time to find out the answer for you?" Your staff members will appreciate your honesty for doing that. Just make sure you do get that answer for them!
This is going to be an exciting time for both our teachers and students. I think it will be a year during which the teachers will learn as much as our students do, and I'm glad to be part of the process! 

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