Technology lead teachers: professional development for computer use in schools
Messmer, Nancy Eileen, 1949-
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School districts look for effective strategies to introduce computer technologies to teachers and to provide inservice education to enhance their technology skills. They hope that increased teacher proficiency with technology will lead to more effective learning environments for children. A school district in the Pacific Northwest designates two teachers per school as Technology Lead Teachers and offers them time, recognition, support, resources and training in exchange for their labor in taking care of technology issues in the building, pioneering teaching and learning with computer technologies, and helping their fellow teachers. This study examines seven Technology Lead Teachers in three elementary schools. It reports on the impact of lead teacher work on their personal learning, their teaching, and their helping of colleagues. The case studies were supplemented by surveys of school colleagues and all district Technology Lead Teachers.Four themes emerged as the key features of program participation for the Lead Teachers; positive opportunity to learn and to help, personal recognition for an important job, long-term immersion in role, and expanded access to people and resources. Teachers took the job to learn, and learning was the focus of the experience for them, in formal classes, conferences and meetings, and in daily problem-solving. By obligating themselves to help, they said they were "forced to learn."Issues surfaced that were troubling to district leaders and/or the Technology Lead Teachers. These included limited direct impact in classrooms, missed opportunities for networking and critical reflection, confusing multiple definitions of the role, lack of clarity about goals for the program, uncertainty about who was in charge, and questions about how to keep former Lead Teachers growing.Being a Technology Lead Teacher is a challenging, problem-solving opportunity for teachers who participate in the program. The model is a modest and sturdy program for ongoing professional development, featuring experiential learning, collegial work on challenging issues, expanded roles for teachers, a possibility of improving learning for children, and an appeal to teacher altruism and hopefulness.
- Education - Seattle