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Banish tech phobia: How to get teachers on board with edtech

By Jennifer Snelling
April 1, 2019
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We’ve all heard about veteran educators who have been teaching the same way for years and are reluctant to integrate technology into their practice.

Why should they? It’s scary to try something new, especially in front of a class of kids who seem to already be tech experts.

Adam Juarez and Katherine Goyette have heard it all.

“The biggest reason is fear,” says Goyette, a staff development and curriculum specialist at the Tulare County Office of Education in California. “But we encourage them to leverage kids to help each other and build a culture where the teacher doesn’t have to have all the answers. It’s OK to fail because that’s how we learn.”

Goyette and her husband Juarez, the Orosi High School tech integration coach, have some tips for coaches working with teachers who might be uncomfortable incorporating technology into their teaching. Here are seven ways coaches can make an edtech impact:

Bring the learning to the teacher.

Instead of asking the teachers to come to a professional development session and then expect them to implement a tech lesson alone in the classroom, go to their turf. Walk the teacher and the class through the lesson together. Some teachers will be more willing to plunge in if you hold their hand a little bit. Plus, the students will be able to help each other – and the teacher – after you leave.  

Focus on how their lives will be easier.

Everyone hates the photocopier. It’s always breaking down or needs more paper. Point out that if the teacher goes paperless, they will not have to fight the copier anymore. Stress how adding technology brings value to their practice and makes their lives easier, says Juarez.

Get the students to request you.

When Juarez was showing students the basics of Google Tools, he brought in funny hats and let students take selfies wearing them. It was so much fun, students started pestering the teacher to bring him back.

“Teachers can tell me no,” Juarez said. “But they have a harder time telling the kids no.”

Master the art of screencasting.

Multiply your impact with the power of streamcasting. When teachers email Juarez, he responds within 10 minutes from wherever he is with a screencasted explanation. Added bonus: The teacher can hit replay as many times as they need to.

Remind teachers it’s OK not to know something.

Technology iterates so quickly, even the tech experts don’t know everything. It’s helpful for teachers to remember that fact. The benefit of a tech coach is that Goyette and Juarez do know who to ask and can shoot out a question to their PLNs – or teach their teachers to do the same.

Show off the results.

Juarez makes a point of collecting artifacts that students make while he is coaching their teacher. He has a living museum of student creations and projects that teachers can revisit from year to year. And the students are proud that he wants to show off their work.

Goyette says sometimes teachers are more inspired when they look at the projects and see that a teacher they know led the project. They sometimes feel more comfortable asking other teachers for advice.

Juarez and Goyette advise educators to keep trying different approaches until they find something that works. “There is no one size fits all,” says Juarez. “When working with resistant teachers, you have to have a good bedside manner."

ISTE Digital Leadership Summit Jan. 17-19, Phoenix, Arizona

Jennifer Snelling is a freelance writer based in Eugene, Oregon, and mom to two digital natives.