Coaches, trainers, and teacher leaders: Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for the many ways you Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership (NETS-T #5), and take stock of the countless benefits you provide your fellow teachers.
The National ISTE Conference this month offers a chance to reflect on the NETS for Teachers and to remember how important leadership is to those educators tackling the sometimes-scary integration of technology into their classrooms.
Standard 5 of the NETS-T reminds us of four key components of professional growth. Consider what you do on a daily basis that has a profound affect on your fellow teachers and supports their personal and professional growth.
a. Participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.
How often do you meet, either formally or informally, with other teachers as they discuss their upcoming lessons and units? This might be in training sessions, or perhaps even more often these important conversations happen at the teacher mailboxes or over the lunch table. Every time you share a great technology tip or resource directly related to an upcoming theme, lesson, or unit, you are adding to the knowledge available to your school's learning community.
TIP: When you overhear a teacher expressing concern about student mastery of a key content concept in an upcoming lesson, share a technology strategy that has worked for you in the past, and consider sending that same information to all staff teaching that grade level or subject. If one teacher is struggling with that goal, it is likely others will also benefit from your suggestion.
b. Exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion, participating in shared decision making and community building, and developing the leadership and technology skills of others.
Every time you model the classroom use of a technology tool, you are expanding the vision of your colleagues. They see or hear about what is working in your classroom and are more open to giving a similar strategy a try in their own classrooms.
TIP: Once the activity is a success for you, offer to try out the same strategy in a fellow teacher's classroom. You will be helping the students reach an important curriculum goal and demonstrating to a less-confident associate that technology can be a very effective teaching tool.
c. Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning.
Find an article by a noted technology guru or a blog about a new technology tool or strategy and share it with your colleagues over lunch. Ask what they think are the pros and cons of giving this a try, and then offer to be the "beta tester" and report back on the results of your trial.
TIP: Ask your students to "rate" the activity, focusing on how the technology helped them grasp the key concepts. Share those evaluations with other teachers, thereby giving them a student-based perspective on technology's benefits and outcomes.
d. Contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self-renewal of the teaching profession and the school community.
This one is easy! Every time you choose to use technology in your own classroom or share your expertise with other teachers, you are raising the level of professionalism in your school's environment.
TIP: Take a moment now and then to remember that just by doing what you find effective and rewarding, you are helping other teachers grow professionally. Through your leadership they will gain confidence in their ability to "facilitate and inspire student learning" [NETS-T #1] while adding technology options to their teacher's toolbox.
Please share your own experiences making a difference for other teachers in: What did you do for a fellow teacher that reaped the most personal rewards?