The #1 Curriculum and Assessment Partner for Educators

2 Star Educators Share Their Best Practices When It Comes to Technology Implementation

2 Star Educators Share Their Best Practices When It Comes to Technology Implementation

They say there’s no better teacher than experience, but when it comes to making tough decisions around implementing technology in your school or classroom this year, we prefer learning from the best.

We previously hosted a webinar panel with two of our 2019 Educator of the Year Award winners, Debra Weiler, 6th grade teacher at New Palestine Intermediate School in New Palestine, Indiana, and Steve Clark, special education teacher at Ortega High School in Lake Elsinore, California, where we discussed how they are using technology in their classrooms, best practices, and what their administrators are doing to support them. Here are some of the best things we learned.

When looking for a digital learning program, it’s important to have a program that is engaging and can support students at all grade levels.

“With a digital learning program… it gives us an opportunity to find resources to support students that are above and below grade-level,” said Mrs. Weiler, “Through testing, we’ve found out that a student is really good at a specific skill, so we don’t have to stifle them.”

“For us, the engagement piece was kind of the first thing we looked at,” explained Mr. Clark, “[Our] kids already have a negative connotation with school, we need to make sure that they are connected with the material.”

For a successful implementation, having a supportive principal who is willing to work with teachers both inside and outside the classroom is key.

“[Our principal] was really supportive with allowing us to experiment. He allowed us the time that we needed to evaluate the data, tos it down, and really focus our PLC groups on data evaluation. He was our biggest cheerleader all the way through… He gave us a lot of support outside of the classroom too, breakout days if we needed them, resources if we needed them… He was a big part of helping us collect data. As a principal, he was able to spend some time deconstructing the data, aggregating it all, so that when we got into PLCs, we were able to look at what was important.”

When trying to get other staff members on board, it’s all about highlighting time saving and professional development.

We asked Debra how she works with administrators to get other staff members on board with new technologies. In her experience it’s all about time, training, and support.

“Knowing that you have the support from our administrators to give us time during our PLCs [or] staff meetings to find out what’s working.” She also highlighted the importance of networking when looking for new ways to use technology in the classroom. “Find out from other staff members how they are using something [or] have another teacher come into your classroom.”

A great way to keep students engaged is to make sure they know they have ownership in their learning.

We asked our educators for tips and tricks to make sure students are enjoying what they’re doing when working with an online program, while learning at the same time, they both highlighted how important it is to change the mindset around school.

“When we start guiding kids through [our blended learning model] and they start having a little bit of success, we really start to see them motivated… that feeling of ‘oh, wow. I can do school. It’s not impossible,’ is a huge deal for them. A little bit of success breeds more success.”

“It’s the purpose. How can kids set a goal for something that they don’t understand the purpose. If they see it as just busy work, they can’t set a goal. I think for kids to know that they have a voice, I think that is a really good tip for helping the kids.”

 The secrets to success? Have a plan, evaluate, don’t be afraid to make changes, and be engaging.

“…have a plan for how you're going to approach this model, evaluate your implementation of the model, and then don't be afraid to make changes. If something is not working, throw it away, and try something else. I know for us, we're constantly evaluating, because ultimately, the kids change. Our kids change quarter after quarter, and year after year, so we're constantly evaluating our system. What worked in quarter one may not work in quarter four, and so plan, evaluate, and make changes.”

“It's easy with technology to step back, and let the students just kind of work independently, but they need practice in that skillset. We just assume that they know how to work independently, and that's not always a good assumption. They need someone to guide them through how to do it, walk around, give them feedback, do mini workshops, do small group breakout, do checks for understanding, let them know that you're as invested in the class as you want them to be, because that's the big thing.”

“The technology is not replacing the teachers, and the teachers just need to make sure that we are still instructing. There's a time and place for the technology, using it to the best ability that we can in our classroom, but just knowing that students still need teachers. They still need instruction, and it's just going to enhance what we're already doing in the classroom.”

Having these educators take time out of their summer to share their expertise was an amazing experience, and this only scratched the surface of knowledge they shared during our hour-long panel. To learn more, watch the full recording of the webinar below!

If you’re interested in more of Edmentum’s informative and educational webinars, take a look at our list of upcoming webinars!