Preparing future teachers for success helps drive the success of the students they will teach.
When the state of North Carolina dramatically reduced textbook funding, yet decided it would implement the Common Core State Standards, our School of Education at Gardner-Webb University decided to fast-track a program to make all teacher preparation courses textbook-free.
We did this with the goal of preparing our students for the environment they would experience when they enter the teaching field, as well as to better equip them to meet the digital expectations that will be asked of them once they graduate.
In addition to going textbook-free, we also wanted to find a way to better capture student data in order to track student progress and focus on accreditation and continuous improvement.
To address the needs of this two-pronged initiative, we chose Teachscape’s online, video-based tools, because they would allow our student teachers to access courses online, view best practices of teaching in action, and reflect on their own teaching—all of which are essential in preparing future teachers for success in the field.
A new generation of teachers that grew up with technology are about to enter the field, bringing lots of new ideas with them. It’s the job of more experienced teachers to help mentor them. So how do they do it when they may not understand the technology the teachers in training are using?
For years schools have taught kids fundamental skills like math, reading, science and English. While those core classes remain the same, today’s technology is allowing students and teachers to explore learning in a whole new way.
Beresford High School is one school implementing technology into students’ critical thinking skills.
Just two years ago the school district secured funding to purchase an iPad for each student in the high school.
“Education is a changing entity and having the technology is something that you have to do to keep and up and prepare students for the next step,” said Beresford High School Principle Dustin Degen.
“Its a very short period of time from when you’re in High School to when you’re on the job market,” said Mark Winegar.
[Interestingly the staff were given professional development to help them get the most out of the technology. Just what every teacher needs 🙂 ]
The Boulder Valley School District has three people assigned to help teachers at 55 schools figure out how to integrate technology into their classrooms.
Looking for a better way to use limited resources, a committee of teachers, principals and community members spent a year developing a vision and researching programs in school districts nationwide. The group settled on a model in which small groups of teachers will receive extensive training and then serve as mentors to other teachers in their schools.
“It’s a good new direction,” said Boulder Valley educational technology manager Kelly Sain, who worked with a similar model in two other school districts. “The enthusiasm from our teachers has been huge.”
I had never been to an “unconference” before, but when I heard the organizer of SocialEdCon Unconference introduce the event, I knew I was in for something new:
“Write your ideas that you want to discuss on the top of the poster board. Each of you can look at all of the ideas and put check marks beside the ones that interest you, and then that will drive the topics that we discuss today.”
I leaned over to my husband, Brad Flickinger, an “unconference expert,” and whispered that I’d love to learn more about educating teachers about technology. He told me to go up and write it down. Fifteen minutes later after the milling crowds of educators thinned out from around the poster boards, I saw my idea surrounded by checkmarks. The organizer announced that Teaching Teachers about Technology would begin in five minutes on the right side of the room, and could the person who wrote the idea down please moderate and share at that session.
I was here to learn from others — not lead a session — but I jumped into the deep end of the pool of unconferencing.
[Read on for the great tips Monique Flickinger shared and gained from her first unconference experience]