Technology in School

Getting the Most Out of Your District Technology Support Staff

By Tatum Omari     Dec 31, 2016

Getting the Most Out of Your District Technology Support Staff

Integrating technology into your classroom can be overwhelming at first—especially navigating the different resources and district technology support staff that are available to you. But once you know how to get the most out of those resources, your life becomes much easier. Below, we dive into three potential resources and their intended purpose, so you can keep classroom devices working and redefine the way you approach your curriculum with the use of technology.

Instructional Technology Specialists: Your Instructional Yodas

Technology TOSAs (teachers on special assignment) or Instructional Technology Specialists are your true resource gold if you are looking to innovate your instruction. In addition to TOSAs, there are often teachers at each site who serve as liaisons between schools and the TOSAs. Here are a few guidelines to help you get the most out of this resource:

  • Save your troubleshooting issues for the help desk. Often, teachers in these positions are approached with more troubleshooting issues in lieu of instructional technology integration advice. That said, if you are in immediate need of troubleshooting assistance and your help desk turnaround time is slow, they can help you out. In this case, be sure to take notes of the troubleshooting protocols they follow to limit the time you spend on those issues with people whose main purpose is to help you with instruction.
  • Pick a subject you would like to work on and solicit a resource list. Getting advice on resources that they are familiar with ensures that the TOSAs will be able to support you if you decide to dive in with any particular product.
  • Ask for one-on-one support. Often people in these positions are happy to come to your classroom to help you plan lessons, observe and give feedback on your approach.
  • Suggest that PD time be set aside for technology integration each week. Best results are achieved when teachers are given the opportunity to share what they are using and what is working well for them. Technology TOSAs are in a great position to offer a short “technology slam” at the beginning of PDs where they can quickly showcase a product or service they think would be useful to other teachers.

District IT Staff: Some of the Best Tech Teachers Out There

There are many potential pitfalls and troubleshooting required during technology integration, and IT staff members can be your best friends in these circumstances. District technology online “help desks” are where teachers can submit tickets for device or internet issues to IT (Information Technology) staff and solicit one-to-one support. District IT staff will usually get in touch via email, or in some cases even come to your classroom.

A key piece of advice here—when someone comes to offer assistance, watch closely and take notes. There is no limit to how many cool tricks you can learn just by watching someone else as they work. In addition, being able to troubleshoot issues yourself can save you from abandoning a well-planned lesson because of a technology snafu. You will be surprised by how often IT professionals are happy to slow down and teach you how to tackle issues step-by-step.

Evaluation and Assessment Departments: Data Wizards

The purpose of district research, evaluation, and assessment departments is to organize, analyze, and report on large amounts of district data. They also train teachers to create, administer, and analyze assessments in the classroom. These training programs can help teachers learn how to create assessment items online using a district-wide technology platform, use data effectively in school site professional development, and input scores for progress reports into digital assessments.

If you do some investigating, your district might even offer site leadership positions where teachers can act as a liaisons between the school site and the assessment department. This offers the opportunity to acquire skills that can help you to more thoughtfully gather and analyze data from your own classroom at a high level, and educate others on how to do so as well.

Integrating technology is a challenge for many teachers, but when you know what resources you’ve got, you make the most of them—and any other supports offered by your school or district!

Tatum Omari is Director of Curriculum at Education.com and a former kindergarten teacher. Follow her on Twitter: @TatumOmari.

Technology in School

Getting the Most Out of Your District Technology Support Staff

By Tatum Omari     Dec 31, 2016

Getting the Most Out of Your District Technology Support Staff

Integrating technology into your classroom can be overwhelming at first—especially navigating the different resources and district technology support staff that are available to you. But once you know how to get the most out of those resources, your life becomes much easier. Below, we dive into three potential resources and their intended purpose, so you can keep classroom devices working and redefine the way you approach your curriculum with the use of technology.

Instructional Technology Specialists: Your Instructional Yodas

Technology TOSAs (teachers on special assignment) or Instructional Technology Specialists are your true resource gold if you are looking to innovate your instruction. In addition to TOSAs, there are often teachers at each site who serve as liaisons between schools and the TOSAs. Here are a few guidelines to help you get the most out of this resource:

  • Save your troubleshooting issues for the help desk. Often, teachers in these positions are approached with more troubleshooting issues in lieu of instructional technology integration advice. That said, if you are in immediate need of troubleshooting assistance and your help desk turnaround time is slow, they can help you out. In this case, be sure to take notes of the troubleshooting protocols they follow to limit the time you spend on those issues with people whose main purpose is to help you with instruction.
  • Pick a subject you would like to work on and solicit a resource list. Getting advice on resources that they are familiar with ensures that the TOSAs will be able to support you if you decide to dive in with any particular product.
  • Ask for one-on-one support. Often people in these positions are happy to come to your classroom to help you plan lessons, observe and give feedback on your approach.
  • Suggest that PD time be set aside for technology integration each week. Best results are achieved when teachers are given the opportunity to share what they are using and what is working well for them. Technology TOSAs are in a great position to offer a short “technology slam” at the beginning of PDs where they can quickly showcase a product or service they think would be useful to other teachers.

District IT Staff: Some of the Best Tech Teachers Out There

There are many potential pitfalls and troubleshooting required during technology integration, and IT staff members can be your best friends in these circumstances. District technology online “help desks” are where teachers can submit tickets for device or internet issues to IT (Information Technology) staff and solicit one-to-one support. District IT staff will usually get in touch via email, or in some cases even come to your classroom.

A key piece of advice here—when someone comes to offer assistance, watch closely and take notes. There is no limit to how many cool tricks you can learn just by watching someone else as they work. In addition, being able to troubleshoot issues yourself can save you from abandoning a well-planned lesson because of a technology snafu. You will be surprised by how often IT professionals are happy to slow down and teach you how to tackle issues step-by-step.

Evaluation and Assessment Departments: Data Wizards

The purpose of district research, evaluation, and assessment departments is to organize, analyze, and report on large amounts of district data. They also train teachers to create, administer, and analyze assessments in the classroom. These training programs can help teachers learn how to create assessment items online using a district-wide technology platform, use data effectively in school site professional development, and input scores for progress reports into digital assessments.

If you do some investigating, your district might even offer site leadership positions where teachers can act as a liaisons between the school site and the assessment department. This offers the opportunity to acquire skills that can help you to more thoughtfully gather and analyze data from your own classroom at a high level, and educate others on how to do so as well.

Integrating technology is a challenge for many teachers, but when you know what resources you’ve got, you make the most of them—and any other supports offered by your school or district!

Tatum Omari is Director of Curriculum at Education.com and a former kindergarten teacher. Follow her on Twitter: @TatumOmari.

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