While organizing my morning fix in the staff room this week I took the opportunity to talk to a smattering of colleagues about how they are integrating technology:

TEACHER 1: “I integrate technology every day. We use the classroom computers as a reading station. We play math games on the interactive whiteboard. Later in the year, when their old enough, they’ll start doing research on the classroom tablets.” (Drink ordered: Coffee)

TEACHER 2: “I want to integrate technology better but so far, I’m doing what I can. Each of my students has a classroom laptop that they can use daily. Some students take notes. Most use it for research and typing their essays. They play math games or check the library stacks without walking to the library. Some students add voice to their photos to make stories.” (Drink ordered: Latte)

TEACHER 3: “I have ideas of grandiose but I’m often too tired to try 1/2 of it. I try to put devices in my students’ hands every day. We have run math workshop with flipped videos (so I don’t have to “teach” each group. I can make instructional videos for groups to watch and review until I get to their group). Students use different tools to record, photograph, reflect, interview, collaborate, build, recreate, practice, and upload. I collaborate with my PLN to get and share ideas. We’ve worked with students from around the world and have shared our thinking on to global platforms like Amazon. We are struggling with how to best share all of their work with parents… but we’ll work this out.” (Drink ordered: Caramel Macchiato)

The consensus from the teachers I spoke to is that they all want to do more. They all are desperate to order the Pumpkin Spice Latte or just add some foam on to their coffee… but they can’t. They are  inundated by the million-and-one daily tasks already on their plate: plan, collaborate, assess, data, best-practice, report, meetings, differentiate, inquiry, workshop, instruct, scaffold, … and they can’t even begin to think about how to be innovative with technology.

Do as a i say

While reading Maggie Hos-McGrane’s blog about moving The SAMR model-from theory to practiceall I could hear is the moans and groans of my colleagues. As schools strive to be more innovative and to improve learning to accommodate current trends in education, the expectations on teachers grow and grow. Considering that now Hos-McGrane (and administrators around the world) are asking non-techies to move beyond static teacher-directed instruction to an integrated tech program can be a recipe for disaster.

To curb the disaster, Technology Integration Coaches (TICs) have been hired to help teachers improve their technology use. Most TICs are remarkable—they are helpful, inspiring, and innovative… but they are also just people, not super heroes. In most schools, this is what happens: a few people try everything and some people are trying to just to catch up and learn how to use their device, blog, print, or use report card programs—the bare necessities for getting their job done. The problem with this model lies in the steep learning curve. As teachers at the top of the technology skill set continue to redesign and reinvent (SAMR model R: Pumpkin Spice Latte)—the target for being “an innovator” has moved up. Therefore, the teachers at the bottom of the tech skill set hill become farther and farther away from that elusive “innovator” apex.

I think it’s time for a change. No more “Do as I say!”


Just as we expect teachers to graduate teacher’s college with an understanding of current trends in teaching and learning, differentiation, assessments, etc. we need to have a baseline expectation for teacher technology skills. No longer should we have school TICs running workshops on how to print or how to setup a classroom blog (there are video tutorials and colleagues for that… inquire and learn it yourself!) Rather, we need to work in communities where WE are all the TICs.

All teachers should be relabeled as: Technology Innovation Teachers (though TITs is a rather unfortunate acronym) because we should all be utilizing technology! We all should be taking the standards and incorporating technology in to each and every one we teach! We should all be using new tools as a way of innovating teaching and learning. And we all should be sharing everything with our colleagues and peers.

No longer do faculty meetings need to be driven by powerpoint and a single speaker. Instead, let’s flip that model just as we do our classrooms. Send teachers a digital story to watch about the new reporting software or on a new differentiation model. Instead, faculty meetings and PD days need to be dripping with Pumpkin Spice Latte learning where teachers are geeking out. Collaboration should be vivacious as TITs share cool and innvoative ways they’ve used technology with students. Better yet… have the students show the teachers the tools they’ve been using and how they used it (because it’s never too early to become a TIT).

From Ian Sane

From Ian San

Instead of having classroom blogs that only show the learning that is going on in a single classroom, schools should have a public stream of realtime learning that showcases all the amazing teaching and learning the TITs and students are participating in. Schools need to organize their own PLNs so teachers can share interesting and innovative ideas with their peers which will further improve the school’s tech discussions.

The only way to we can try and build 21st century learners is to finally flip education on its head and BE 21st century teachers. The answer may not be my TIT model but what could it be…?

I’m flipping my thinking. How about you?