Making groundbreaking changes in the classroom is much easier than in the past. Ideally, students take charge in such a way that they help their teachers reimagine the classroom and education as a whole. But to get started, you have to empower your teachers and not just plop new technology on their desks.
To foster a culture of innovation, offer teachers options for professional development. Give them opportunities to explore technology to meet their specific needs, while also building upon their expertise. Professional development is a great start to steering teachers down the path of creative and efficient uses of technology. Make sure the professional development courses are diverse enough to address a variety of needs. And you also might want to consider some self-selection to encourage out-of-the-box thinking.
It can sometimes be quite easy to set a vision for the school and outline goals to match that image. But without input from teachers, it can be a challenge to bring any vision to pass. Bring teachers into the conversation when you’re making school-wide decisions about technology. The more involved they feel, the more buy-in your will get early on. And if teachers commit themselves, they’ll take charge of the technology in such a way that innovation begins to happen effortlessly.
Don’t let teachers work in a vacuum. If you have a teacher who has found success in the classroom, scale that success throughout your school. Technology is known to have positive impacts on retention, engagement and overall student performance. But these outcomes only happen with an effective implementation. Find your top performing teachers and ask them what they’re doing. Learn what works and let them share their successes as well as their tactics with other teachers.
Sometimes things just don’t work. Don’t spin your wheels trying to force a particular technology to work for you. Of course, a complete overhaul isn’t always the most cost-effective step, so when it comes to new technology, start with a small pilot program first to give teachers and students and chance to test out the technology. See how it works in the classroom and how students respond. If you don’t see results, you don’t have to continue.