Having a Growth Mindset with Technology Integration

I am by no means an expert on EdTech...let me admit that up front. There are things that I don’t know how to do and I will be the first to admit that when I don’t know something, I turn to Google. As a technology lead teacher last year, I had teachers approach me with more technical issues on their Chromebooks and rather than waiting weeks for one of the district’s IT people to come check it out, I took to the nearest search engine and tried troubleshooting the issue myself.

I will also admit that I have a huge learning curve when it comes to the Chromebooks - even though I have been a computer-user since the tender age of three (when my mom placed me on her lap and we played computer-based Sesame Street games on a behemoth of a desktop). As an adult professional, my preference has always been Macs, so having to learn the odds and outs of a PC again took me some time...and even now, I still don’t have them down pat.

I know teachers hear buzzwords and power phrases like “growth mindset” and “the power of yet” — but not many fully embrace such perspectives...at least not in the ways that we encourage our students to. As a teacher leader, I found quite a few teachers who were afraid of taking risks - whether it was because they were afraid of failure or something not going right with the technology, or they were afraid of the tech disrupting their regularly scheduled routines or way of teaching. Rather than attempt a lesson - or anything really - they let the technology sit there, collecting dust.

Now, I am the last person to tell another teacher how or what to teach - but I am a strong proponent for technology use in the classroom. I uphold the belief that technology is a tool for enhancing the already good teaching that is occurring in many classrooms. Even if teachers begin their EdTech integration simply substituting the technology for a current practice or routine - I give kudos because it’s a starting point! If it gets the teacher more comfortable with the tech, than I am all for it. If it encourages them to try some new app or website the next time they pull the Chromebooks out, then I feel we’ve accomplished something.

I feel that the little successes aren’t always celebrated or looked at as special things...but they should be. Especially if it gets teachers (who were very set in their ways) trying something new and taking that initial risk with technology. Technology doesn’t always work...things don’t always go right. But it’s important that students see this and take it as a teachable moment for all.

When it comes to technology integration, districts often shove the technology into the classrooms and expect teachers not only to learn the new tech (on their own time and dime) but also be proficient in integrating technology based on a few professional development days per year. Teachers don’t learn this way.

I conducted an action-research project this past year through a teacher leader program I was involved in. During the course of my research, I learned that teachers need three things in order to be successful with technology integration. First, they need to have positive, personal experiences with technology. Second, they need to have opportunities to observe teachers who are effectively using technology in the classroom. Finally, teachers need to be exposed to supportive, socio-cultural influences through the creation of norms and the discussion of methods/strategies with other educators (Ertmer, 2005).

Presenting for district administrators, fellow Teacher Leaders, and families

I think districts who are “getting it right” are providing their teachers access to not only relevant, meaningful PD opportunities involving (but not necessarily centered around) technology, but also providing experienced personnel to help support EdTech integration in the classroom. Sometimes districts forget that teachers are learners too - and that districts need to invest in their teachers just as much as they do their students. This means providing the tools and personnel to support teachers rolling out technology in the classrooms.