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Why is it so hard to train teachers?

Ever noticed what a pain in the butt it is to teach teachers? They gab, chatter, giggle, and do everything for which they give students detentions.
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Written by Christopher Dawson on

Ever noticed what a pain in the butt it is to teach teachers? They gab, chatter, giggle, and do everything for which they give students detentions. I'm sitting in training for our new SIS and, fortunately, I only have to handle the technical pieces of the training. Some poor sap from the SIS vendor has to actually teach these big kids. Of course, I'm a teacher myself, so I'm guilty, too. It's really remarkable, though, just what awful students we are.

I think it's especially bad trying to train teachers on technology issues since so many of them are not only clueless but disinterested in ed tech. Sometimes, as is the case with the SIS, they just have to know and use the technology, whether they want to or not. These are the worst since many teachers see this sort of thing as administrative overhead and irrelevant to instructing their students.

There are countless pieces of technology that actually can enhance the classroom experience, but many teachers, especially the 20- and 30-year veterans, aren't interested in re-engineering their classroom practices to incorporate the tech. Unfortunately for them, this is becoming less optional as regulatory bodies, parents, colleges, students, and the workforce expect a high degree of exposure to classroom technology.

So how do we train teachers to use technology? How do we keep them engaged and then get them to implement the technology in the classroom? Do we mandate it and butt heads with unions? Do we let some teachers (probably the younger ones, but a growing number of motivated veterans) use the tech but let others slide? Neither is a particularly good option. Rather, teachers need to see enough of the wow factor to be motivated to use the technology. It needs to be easy, it needs to be cool, and it needs to inspire teachers and show them how they can engage students in class.

When I'm training the math teachers, it's not too hard, since they tend to be more technically-oriented anyway. Show them some cool ways to manipulate constructions in Sketchpad or how to use Excel for statistics and they're pretty happy. Social studies teachers and their liberal arts brethren tend to be tougher crowds. I demonstrated Blogger.com to English teachers with some success to encourage student writing, but never got that wow factor across. So what are your wow applications? What tech has gotten your world language instructors excited or your gym teachers? What has it taken for you to get teachers to behave in class?

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