Passing the Passion Means Never Ending Support

I met with two awesome teachers earlier this week. They see the value of educational technology and try to integrate it as often as possible with their instruction. One of them said to me the other day, “You know when you’re here and you’re sharing resources and helping us plan I get so fired up and excited. But then a day or two passes and it’s pushed under the rug and it never happens.”

I didn’t have much of a reaction to this teacher’s statement initially. He wasn’t complaining. I think his main intention was to share a struggle with following through. It was definitely a hurdle for him. The more I thought about it though I realized, “Well maybe I’m the one that didn’t follow through? Or didn’t follow though quickly enough? Could I have supported him more somehow?”

Teachers need continual support when it comes to using any type of instructional technology. It might be with a blended course environment or with an interactive whiteboard. I think I do a good job of maintaining regular check-ins with teachers I am assigned to, or even if I’m not officially assigned to them.

My job is to not only share my knowledge with other teachers. If I want my passion to be their passion, or OUR passion to be our teachers passion, then we have to offer continual support. We want teachers to feel successful infusing technology. We all know that a feeling of success is not going to happen with every lesson, technology or not. Teachers need to know that they have my support, success or not.

12 thoughts on “Passing the Passion Means Never Ending Support”

  1. At the ACEC conference in Melbourne, Sylvia Martinez spoke about the scenario your teacher described. (Are you familiar with genyes?). A solution she puts forward is to harness the abilities of the students in supporting the teachers. Have you considered that?

  2. Loved this piece. Kyle, this is the most critical sentence in your blog. “If I want my passion to be their passion, or OUR passion to be our teachers passion, then we have to offer continual support.” This is the passion that I feel regarding my work as an educator. I’m excited to see that we are on the same page.

  3. I really appreciate the first commentor’s suggestion of harnessing students abilities to support technology in the classroom. I have seen teachers angrily decline students the opportunity to assist in what I would deem an attempt to hold onto a thin veil of being the authority on the classroom. I personally, believe that while I am the authoritative figure in the room, the captain of the ship, I welcome everyone’s help in keeping the ship on course. Furthermore, learning is not just what is in the lesson plan. Opportunities for students to problem solve on-the-fly and contribute positively to the classroom are big positives for the student and the class.

    As for wanting my passion to be others’, I think of a colleague who once said that at the graduate and post-graduate level each student thinks that whatever he or she is studying is the most important thing in the world.

    There is no way for each of us to embody the passions of the other. I believe we must look for ways to collaborate and create opportunities to collaborate so that our passions may catalyze one another’s and enhance our learning environments. So I think you are right on in saying “we have to offer continual support,” but I disagree with your premise that everyone is going to or should have the same passion.


    1. Adam,
      I don’t think I meant that everyone should have the same passion or level of passion. For me it was more about that specific case I mentioned. When teachers are with me, they are fired up, excited, raring to go. And even with my offer of continual support AFTER they leave me, I cannot force them to follow through (unless it’s a district initiative that mandates required training).

      The more I thought about it, I realized that it certainly wasn’t the first time a teacher had told me this.

  4. I’ve tried various methods of training with my staff: single in person sessions, multiple in person sessions on the same topic, online, etc… What I’m finding is that if you just introduce and demo a tool in an in-service, 9 out of 10 teachers usually will not embed it in their instruction. They may try it once, but it won’t become common practice. What seems to be working best is putting a group of teachers together who are interested in one topic (ie. using wikis with students) and meet monthly or bimonthly. During this time, speak with them about what’s working and what isn’t and give them a little bit more each time. This way, you can help the teacher to iron out problems as they happen and it is more likely that the teacher will continue to include it as a regular component of instruction. I’m not recommending everyone use the same method, obviously, but I think that we, as those who are modeling, need to make sure that we follow-up and continue to help in some form.

    1. Jason,
      I also do training on multiple levels: entire staff, grade level or department, or one on one. I agree with you, that when you have teachers form a cohort style approach it does seem to be the most effective. We have a couple of different teacher technology cohort groups going on in my district this year. One is for daily implementation of the Classroom Performance System (clickers), an another is our secondary teachers who applied to use Blackboard to create a blended environment for their classroom.

    2. Jason, I think you bring up an excellent point. I believe that the tail can’t wag the dog including when we are talking about technology. One of the most effective ways to integrate technology into learning, especially with folks who aren’t tech savvy is to hold spaces such as the on-going learning groups you describe.

      Another means that has had good success is to bring teachers into a room and have them describe what they want to be able to do with technology, how it will help them meet their ends. While they talk have someone find and demonstrate the technological means to achieving the teachers’ goals. This helps to create immediate buy-in and relevance.

  5. This is very true. This is why I am trying to extend the network of support beyond the four walls of school. We have got to teach teachers how to utilize their PLN so they can have that “pumped up” feeling repeatedly and know that they can easily get to someone that can help them…even when you cant.

  6. This is a really good reminder, Kyle. I have found the same to be true at my school. I decided to help fix that problem I would know all of our curriculum inside and out and made a point of pouring through it all over the summer. Now when I teach a new tool, I am able to follow up with suggestions that work in the unit and chapter they are teaching each week. This seems to help a lot with follow through. Teachers want to use these tools but don’t always have the time to play with them and think about how it fits into what they are doing.

    1. Kelly,
      I totally agree with you. We do have to be very knowledgeable about our curriculum. Constant communication is essential too. For example, if I have a kindergarten teacher that has just received a SMART Board, I take a look at the curriculum and if I am not meeting with them face to face I try to send them a small “goodie” that will go great with their lesson/unit.

  7. I agree with what you say in your article about needing to give teachers the support they need whenever and for as long as they need it, until they are comfortable with the new tool/resource and want to use it by themselves. I really like Kelly’s ideas of showing them how they can use that immediately in what they are teaching – their success here will give them to confidence to keep on using it in other lessons too.

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