As a new tech integration specialist, moving to a school where they were changing from the tech class to the tech integration model there were certain things that needed to be understood beforehand.
Some of these key ideas I posted in a post called Technology Integration: a six-pronged approach. Other ideas, however, had more to do with dealing with the emotions of colleagues and I will touch on this now. I would liken these Kübler-Ross’ “Five Stages of Grief” to the emotions that many of the teachers went through when learning they were dealing with a new strategy for technology:
Denial: Most home room teachers who have been at the school for sometime, upon hearing that their school will be moving to this model will be in shock, and do not really understand what this means. Some may decide that they do not have time to meet with or interact with the new ‘tech integrator’ assuming this stance as one where they can keep their heads in the sand as long as possible until they will have to deal with what has been given to them.
As a tech integrator it means you need to explain the process to teachers, knowing full-well that many of the words you say or write are falling on deaf ears. It is of utmost importance that you have patience knowing that they are dealing with change, and are there to offer reassurance, help and support when they are ready to receive it.
Anger: One of the biggest gripes from teachers is that they “have lost their prep. period”. They do not see the big picture yet and feel like they have gained nothing, but definitely lost what most teachers treasure most – time.
As a tech integrator, this means that you have to be ready to act as the messenger, fully realizing that some teachers will be ready to shoot you. Again, patience and understanding are key here. Note that I am not saying, “push for your right to integrate tech”. A tech integrators role, especially in the early stages, has more to do with empathizing and supporting than it does with integrating technology. Be kind, be patient, listen, and support.
Bargaining: At this stage many teachers are still not ready to accept the role of the tech integrator and may decide that they will ‘leave for a coffee for the entire period’ while you teach the class in their classroom. Although this may need to happen at first to ease into the transition there needs to be bargaining and compromise from both sides. For instance, the tech integrator eventually needs to explain that his role is to be working with the teachers to integrate technology into the classroom.
The tech integrator eventually wants to work his way out of the job. Essentially, he should be developing computer skills in all the teachers to such a degree that he can begin focussing his role more as a learning coach than a tech integrator.
Another worry from teachers is about how they will do the tech teaching themselves, how they are going to mark, who is going to mark, etc. These questions should all be explicitly focused upon over time with the tech integrator helping out along the way. Remember, this is not a journey that will take a year. In my experience and that of others, it takes between three and five years to fully move to tech integration.
Depression: There may be some hidden or some outright depression along the way. Teachers may say things like, “I don’t know how to teach technology; I just don’t have the skill set; or Please, can you come and teach my class.”
As a tech integrator, the initial stage will mean getting to know all the teachers needs through regular meetings and setting up classroom visits. However, upon you understanding the support necessary for different teachers, accommodation takes place at different levels. For example, some teachers may want a lesson to be taught completely by the tech integrator. Others, may want to team teach. Other still, may want you there only as moral support or support when something gets tricky. And finally, many may want you to teach them individually either for personal or professional purposes. This is where the acceptance stage has started kicking in.
Acceptance: Not only is there a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is a bright shiny light when everyone reaches the end of that tunnel. Here are some reasons:
- The students have a higher chance they are learning technology through authentic means, and not in a separate class where the end goal is to learn technology. The computer and it’s peripheries begin to be thought of as a tool to help a student come up with better or altogether new ways to create solutions to genuine problems. Ideally, the teachers and tech integrators are integrating with the highest levels of the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model.
- Tech integration improves student learning processes and outcomes because teachers who recognize a computer’s capacity move from a Behavioral approach to a constructivist approach as noted in this article.
- Technology integration enables total engagement of the class with tools like Google Docs, Microsoft One-Note, Socrative, Edmodo, and one of my new favorites Todaysmeet. Integration also allows for students to enlist the help of other classes, schools, or even experts in a field to find the answers to the questions that may be posed. Students or teachers can post in blogs, on social networks, through ePortfolios and through so many other forms.
- As a tech integrator, your colleagues can learn from you in so many capacities. As mentioned above, they can learn while you are teaching, while they are teaching, or by themselves at their own pace.
- Finally, another advantage for you, the tech integrator, stepping into so many classes is that you are gleaning best teaching practice. I like to think of a tech integrator as a bumblebee pollinating flowers, or carrying best practice from one class to the next. This again is teaching teachers, but it has reciprocal advantages.
While the stages are not the same for all teachers, a technology integrator stepping into these shoes in a school where they are changing from tech classes to integration is unwittingly going to stumble across some, if not all, of the teachers in one stage or another. He needs to mentally prepare himself for the situation and recognize that he won’t be liked by most upon arrival. He needs to remember to support, support, support. In two or three years he will be loved even more than the tech teacher who would take the kids off the teachers hands so they could have a break. Eventually, he will become the most loved teacher through all the school, even more than the gym teacher!!