Why Professional Development Matters

Professional development requires more than just heading into work every day and checking the necessary boxes on daily activities. Teachers need to have background information and professional support, and access to industry news, standards, and trends to make the most out of their time in the classroom. Can you imagine arriving at school to teach all of your classes with no inkling of a lesson plan? The same goes for technology integration  - you need to do your homework before you can successfully integrate the technology into your classroom. Many teachers have to do all of this “back end” integration stuff (finding the right tools, learning how to use them, figuring out how they’ll work with the material that needs to be taught) in their own time, which isn’t always plentiful. As a result, many teachers decide to just not bother using the technology available to them, rather than wasting time with an unsupported, underplanned and unsuccessful integration. The handy infographic below takes a look at how integrating technology has had a proven impact on students. Keep reading to learn more. 

Technology’s Positive Impact on Students

  • 80% of schools underutilize the technology available to them
  • Fewer than 7% of schools have teachers that are tech literate enough to integrate technology into their lessons
  • 36% of schools provide no technology training for teachers
  • Students show 3% growth in math and reading (a full year’s growth!) when teachers have training in tech integration

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1 Comment

  1. Michelle Macumber

    May 12, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    This article resonates with me for so many reasons!

    As an educator who spent fourteen years in the classroom (and just left in June of 2013), it makes me sad to see teachers who are in desperate need of professional development as they seek to improve their tech skills, integrate technology in their daily lessons, and engage their students in a way that appeals to them. It makes me sad to hear about readily available tech tools just sitting in schools gathering dust…. when there are so many ways that even the most unskilled-with-tech teacher could begin dusting them off and taking baby steps to bring technology to life in their classrooms.

    And yet the data, such as that presented above, speaks for itself. Teachers do want to know how to integrate technology into the teaching. The tools are out there. Technology integration engages students and can contribute to growth in so many areas.

    Some may blame the teachers – the technology is available to them, the internet presents a never-ending supply of tech-related ideas and suggested activities…. so why aren’t they using it? From the view of someone who was recently working in the classroom, I can tell you that it’s because the majority of teachers don’t know where to start. Teachers do not feel prepared and therefore they shy away from doing so. This is a problem! This doesn’t necessarily mean that the 7% of teachers who are tech literate enough to bring it into their lessons are the only ones who know how to turn on a Smartboard, write a blog post, or post something to Twitter. But what it does mean is that approximately 93% of teachers are not yet prepared to integrate technology in a meaningful way, a way that actually enhances the skills and content they are trying to teach.

    Fortunately, I can also speak from personal experience when I spout my agreement about the benefits of effective professional development surrounding the integration of technology into teaching and learning. For my entire career, I have worked for or been associated with an organization dedicated to creating both global educators and globally-minded learners who are prepared for the future. Technology is a large component of the professional development that my colleagues and I took part in (and which I now assist teachers with engaging in) – through ready-to-use lesson plans that encouraged the use of tech tools we were guided through how to use them, provided with models of how to integrate (and why), and able to see how students engaged and succeeded with this approach. Through the professional development, we learned how to wrap our current standards in global content, all while integrating technology into everything we did.

    Technology integration became second nature for all of us. Yet, it only happened because we were prepared and given the support we all needed (whether we were tech newbies or avid users of technology who simply needed to understand more about effectively weaving it throughout our teaching and learning). It only happened because we were given the opportunity to take baby steps and to try things without worrying about failing. And because of tech training like this, I have seen teachers doing absolutely incredible things with technology every single day!

    With even just a few minutes dedicated to a an online search, you can easily find class blogs where teachers and students are contributing and sharing their learning with the world, examples of incredible technology and project based learning taking place in classrooms around the world, Twitter feeds where even First Graders are uploading photos and posting comments about new knowledge gained, stories about students of all ages learning how to code, and more. Technology IS being used, and it is being used effectively by so many teachers in so many places…. but my guess is that if you asked these teachers how they came to be so engaged with integrating technology (and integrating it so successfully), their answers would sound similar. Access to technology tools. School and district support (including the tech-ready aspects such as connectivity and site accessibility). PD surrounding effective integration.

    And sadly, I reckon that for many teachers with an intense desire to improve in this area, the tech training or professional development has been self-directed – they have taken the initiative to seek out this knowledge and acquire these skills when such opportunities do not exist within their school or district. This shouldn’t have to be the case – all teachers should be provided with quality opportunities to effectively use the technology available to them so they can enhance the learning experience and overall growth of their students!

    Michelle Macumber

    @michelemacumber
    @VIFLearn