As perfectly stated by educator D’Andre J. Weaver in an Educator’s View article for The 74 “Making sure teachers know how to use technology is as much an investment in students' learning as providing the ed tech itself.”
According to a Gallup study conducted for the Newschools Venture Fund, 87% of K-12 teachers say they use tech tools in their classroom at least once a week. However, 56% pointed out insufficient training as a barrier to effectively using that tech. In other words, although technology is increasingly prevalent in schools, teachers’ confidence in using it is disproportionately low, and lack of training is a big reason why.
Educators themselves understand that to bridge that gap, they need better training. One-third of educators said they were looking for more in-depth training and professional development opportunities. The difference it could make on student learning is astounding.
Studies indicate that the right professional development for teachers can have a direct impact on student achievement. According to IMSE Journal, students can achieve up to a 21% increase in performance when their teachers participate in effective training programs.
But what is the right professional development for your school? In his article, Weaver said it all started with establishing a “schoolwide vision for the use of technology and support to use it meaningfully.”
Ask yourself, “what do we want to achieve with new technology investments, and what investments can we make in our people to make it all come true?”
The Importance of Professional Development
There are many factors that go into a high-quality education, from the culture of the school and parental involvement to the technology provided and beyond. But more important than any of these is the effectiveness of educators themselves.
“In the absence of any or all of these other factors, a skillful and resourceful educator can still overcome obstacles to lead a student to achievement,” says Josh Ratliff, Director of Education Initiatives for Trafera. “On the other hand, all the school culture and technology in the world will never be able to make up for the absence of a skilled teacher to produce an atmosphere of excellence.”
Consider John Hattie’s research on effect size – a system used to measure the effectiveness of more than 100 influences on student outcomes. Far and away the most influential factor on learning outcomes is collective teacher efficacy.
The bottom line is that educators are always going to be the biggest factor in a high-quality education.
Hattie's List of Factors Related to Student Achievement - 2018:
What Makes Professional Development High Quality?
To ensure that teacher training empowers educators and leads to impactful outcomes, you’ll need to make sure your professional development is:
- Incorporating Active Learning by using edtech tools in various formats like videos, texts, and audio make learning more engaging and relevant. This way, teachers can be involved in creating and practicing new strategies, not just passively listening.
- Offering Continuous Learning throughout the year rather than going to one-time workshops, reflects the commitment to lifelong learning in education.
- Meeting Individual Needs that aligns with teachers' specific growth areas and interests, ensures that the time they spend is valuable and directly applicable to their teaching.
- Fostering Collaboration encourages teachers to share ideas, ask questions, and learn from each other, creating a collaborative learning environment.
- Incorporating New Technologies like interactive flat panels, virtual reality, laptops and more, into teacher training enables educators to skillfully use these tools in classrooms, enriching the learning experience.
Getting Teacher Buy-In
Providing opportunities for professional development is a big first step, but you should also be fostering teacher buy-in toward the importance of technology and its role in modern education. And one of the best ways to do this is to focus on technology’s impact on student outcomes.
As the below table from a 2020 Gallup Study denotes, students of every grade level not only feel digital learning tools are fun and that they make school more interesting, but that they also help them learn things on their own and at their own pace.
Technology can only improve learning experiences when we make people our number one investment. Providing a future-ready education requires more than just access to powerful technology tools. Educators must be empowered with the skills they need to create an instructional shift using these tools.
Teacher training for educational technology should seek to address:
- Encouragement and enablement of a meaningful and sustainable change in teaching and learning
- Best practices for digital learning
- Use of the SAMR Model to assess the value of technology in a given learning experience
- Use of the ISTE Standards for Students
- Support of the “6 Cs” by educational technologies: content creation, creativity, communication, collaboration, community building, and choices of conduct (Positive
- TechnologicalDevelopment (PTD) framework)
- Facilitation of differentiated instruction
Ways to Provide Teacher Training - Trafera PD
For schools and educators looking to delve deeper into effective teaching strategies and modern tools, Trafera PD remains a reliable and trusted resource. This teacher training helps navigate the complexities of today's digital education landscape and is even a Google Certified provider of professional development.
Trafera PD offers customizable options, including:
- On-Demand Trafera PD: This platform offers self-paced learning where teachers can access online courses covering everything from basics to advanced tech-enhanced instruction. Free to all Trafera customers, they can master tech tools with video lessons, quizzes, and expert guidance.
- On-Site Trafera PD: Customized to align with your unique goals and scheduling preferences, this option brings Trafera's teaching and learning consultants to your school for personalized training sessions.
- Live Virtual Trafera PD: Those unable to host in-person sessions, can attend remote, live, and custom training with Trafera's teaching and learning consultants.
What's Up Wednesday - Teacher Tips & Trick
Focusing on K-12 education, What’s Up Wednesday short-form videos break down essential tech tools and techniques in just a few short minutes! Ideal for busy teachers looking for bite-sized morsels of knowledge.
TRAILS - Online Library of Ready-Made Lesson Plans
TRAILS is an online library of ready-made lesson plans designed to transform instruction and broaden tech fluency. It offers a diverse range of technology-integrating lessons for K-12 educators of any subject. Each lesson helps teachers gain confidence using new tools as they try them out with their classes as part of fun and engaging learning experiences. Lessons come in two flavors:
- Trail Mixes: Bite-sized STEM lessons that make technology use in the classroom approachable, easy, and enjoyable.
- Trail Guides: Comprehensive multi-lesson units following the 5E Model that are aligned with Next Generation Science and ISTE standards.
Considering implementing professional development for your teachers?
Get in touch with Trafera to explore the possibilities and benefits for your school’s educational journey.