My 5 Secrets for Supporting Reluctant Teachers in Tech Integration

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I read a post this morning about supporting teachers skeptical in technology. As someone who does support teachers, I found that this article left a bit on the table. Below are my 5 secrets to supporting reluctant teachers. I follow these steps religiously and have been successful at doing so. With all things, please note that your school and situation can vary. I do welcome your feedback.

1. Don’t overwhelm teachers with a “list of 100 apps”.

It should be no surprise that I am not a “20 apps in 20 minutes” or “100 apps in 60 minutes” kind of trainer. I am a “let’s learn to use 5 apps really well” kind of person instead. When you drop a list of apps, you are in essence guaranteeing that they will NOT be used. It can be intimidating…no, it IS intimidating for teachers new to tech.

2. Start with Personal…personal use is an excellent bridge to professional use.

I like to tie in “personal flavors” in training. For creation, this is a great way for teachers to communicate who they are with apps or even web tools. To help teachers see how others have used applications, we go to Pinterest. Almost all are surprised that pinterest has “lessons”. If you can help anyone, especially a teacher, see how the application ties into their daily life, you are increasing the chances of its use.

3. Work WITH teachers to find places in their lessons to integrate relevant technology

It is so important to NOT just use tech as a gimmick. Always use what is appropriate to communicate what the lesson defines. That does NOT mean that we don’t use “fun” tech. With reluctant teachers, they want to know “WHY”…you need to be able to communicate that. If you can brainstorm together and let the task lead the tech, you will win with the teacher.

4. Support through modeling

Having someone else in the room to help does wonders to ease fears. This means that you must have built a relationship with the teacher in order to make this even an option. If that teacher is not comfortable with you and your support, it won’t work. Most teachers are very protective of their spaces. Make sure that the teacher understands that the content expertise lies with them. You are there to help support them with technology. With a relationship, a co-teaching model is actually ideal.

5. Reflect and help support further growth

Always start with a question. If you’ve done steps 3 & 4 correctly, planning with teachers & modeling…reflection should help open those reluctant eyes. What did we do? Why did we do it? How did students react? Did their finished product communicate higher level thinking? Did students enjoy it? Remember…FUN is in!

Above all, make sure that you lead with understanding. Get to know who your teachers are and know that they are not ignoring tech but need guidance. My job is to help teachers get there.



Comments 25

  1. I completely agree! I really think that #3 is where many of our teachers need help. Ecspecially our veteran teachers, they need to know how to use this in a lesson. That will make them more willing to try out the new tech world.

    1. Post

      Exactly! If you don’t have “the lesson tie in”, it’s not going to be used…period.

      We are beyond that now.

    2. Thank you! I have a schedule
      of 4/5 teaching & 1/5 Tech Coach. In the attempt to balance the impossible I found myself making some of the mistakes that you address, and you are right to point out proper mentoring techniques. Thank you again for rebooting my brain.

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    3. I am that non techie teacher who has now become inspired because of my attendance at Iste and and an IPad lab. Vey excited and inspired but your points about taking it slow and making it relevant
      to our personal lives as well as to our curriculum
      with our curriculum rings true. I am also jazzed when I read other teachers’ journeys and feel supported by the social media teacher blogging and sharing.

  2. Thanks for the helpful ideas. I am moving from a Technology Specialist position to a Technology Integration position in the next year or so and will definitely be using YOU as a go-to resource!

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      Wow! That’s a pretty cool compliment! Thank You! I look forward to learning from you as well.

  3. I agree with these statements above. How do you deal with so many competing programs and tasks that teachers have to do? They feel so much pressure from their principal that the coaching, modeling, etc seem to be too much even when the app, tool, relationship, etc is all there.

    1. Post

      You focus on one. Get one really successful idea going. It may be a tech tool for workflow…like to help with the principal/task requirements and that is ok. Doing so helps to ease a bit the tech fear which helps in other areas.

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  6. Wow, this is so right. It’s so easy to get frustrated at teachers for not learning what we are overwhelming them with. Then I remember how easily I get overwhelmed when someone tries to teach me to use power tools, Mandarin, or motorcycle maintenance.

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  8. I think we also need to be very aware of how we interact with those teaches that might not be on the same level. I might use tech a ton and be excited about it, but we have to differentiate for teachers just like we do for students. Great post.

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      We most certainly do. All of the pedagogy that worked in the classroom, still applies. You must also be mindful that you must treat adults as adults…not children.

  9. This article make lot of sense. Most people always overwhelm by 100 apps to learn, top 50 list….people just flooded by these before they want to adopt.

    1. Post
  10. Very insightful. It reminds me of a book I recently read called Switch by the Heath brothers. Have you read it? It talks about how the brain has an emotional side and an intellectual side, and how appealing to both of those in certain ways can help you be an effective leader. It is an easy to read book with a bunch of metaphors and analogies – the emotional side is referred to as the Elephant, which is very big and eventually gets what it wants. The rider is the intellectual side who can control things for a little while, but the elephant eventually goes where it wants to.

    Your example of using too many apps would probably be mentioned in that book as something like confusing the rider. When there are too many choices, the riders wheels spin and it cannot get moving. As you said, it is overwhelming. Providing just a few apps does what Heath calls “shink the change.” Figuring out how to use just a few apps is not an overwhelming task.

    Starting with something personal appeals to the elephant – showing those teachers how you can use technology to make their lives easier. For the ones that already use Pinterest, they might even get a little wind in their sales because they already feel like they are part of the way to technology integration. It is easier to start something when you feel like you are already partly to your goal.

    Steps two through five in your list are examples of, again using terminology from Switch, “shaping the path” and “directing the rider.” You are providing clear direction for those you are leading, and helping guide them on the route to success – not just dropping something in their laps and moving on.

    Here is a link to the book for anyone who hasn’t read it. I think it can likely give any kind of leader good advice.


    1. Post

      First of all, thank you so much for being moved enough to share this book with me and everyone seeing this post! I have never heard of it prior to now but I am ordering it as soon as I finish typing. You summarized every thought and connected it to this powerful book that you read. Now, I need to read it. Thank you so much!! This is amazing!!!

  11. Yes! The lists of 100+ apps do overwhelm a novice – sometimes I think trainers feel they have to impress the administration by providing copious amounts of info. The other caveat is that the tech has to fit the purpose of the lesson, not be the purpose. Nice article!

    1. Post

      Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you so much for that…”tech has to fit the purpose of the lesson, not be the purpose”

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