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Technology Starts with Professional Development and Training

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Districts offer advice on how to integrate technology with an emphasis on coaching teachers first.

“Instructional technology specialists are the core of the professional development plan at Forsyth County Schools in Cumming, Ga., 40 miles north of Atlanta. “If you’re going to use technology in your classrooms, make sure you have the people to carry out the training,” says Coordinator of Instructional Technology Jill Earman, whose district has about 5,000 teachers and staff serving almost 45,000 students. “We would not be where we are with technology integration without the 50 people dedicated to teaching people to use the technology.”

Teachers have to be proficient in using the district’s LMS, itslearning, which has become central to the way the district operates — there are not even days off for bad weather in Forsyth County, as lessons are delivered to homebound students through the LMS. An instructional technology team travels among the district’s 35 schools, providing training focused on, but not limited to, the LMS. Each school also has a dedicated technology specialist(some high schools have two) who rotates through classrooms, co-teaching and modeling ways that technology can be used to support and extend the curriculum, Earman says.

The LMS also is there to serve the learning needs of teachers, who can access recordings of some of the professional development sessions offered by the district as well as an extensive collection of training webinars through itsLearning, she says.

“We have to offer ways for teachers to get the training they need when they need it,” Earman says. “That’s the just-in-time support the ITSes offer. There has to be respect for all that teachers have to do, and there has to be follow-up to make sure they’re not struggling with new skills. The old ‘sit-and-get,’ one-time event model of professional development doesn’t work.””

This article, by Tommy Peterson, appears on EdTech Magazine on June 22nd, 2016. Read the full article here.

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