The school year is over, summer break has begun and teachers all over are getting a well-deserved break. I hope that you get the rest and relaxation you need to recharge your batteries! If there’s one thing I’ve learned in education, however, it’s that teachers don't really take summer off. Teachers are some of the hardest working folks I know, and summer is the time when you start thinking about next year's classroom.
As a former school district tech director, I wanted to offer a small, helpful guide on how to get ready on the technology front for the start of another school year.
1. If you have technology items that aren’t working, let your tech team know now!
The summer may bring districts time with no students and fewer staff, but it’s typically the time that your IT staff is really cranking up projects. They’re working on implementing new technology and maintaining what is already there. It’s usually a sprint through the summer, and then when we get close to returning to school, it’s a fever pitch! If you wait until later in the summer to let your IT staff know what’s wrong, they may not be able to get to it until well into the school year, so be proactive.
I know most schools have you leave a list of problems of all sorts - from general maintenance repairs to furniture to technology - but sometimes those get lost in translation. It never hurts to send a short note over to your IT staff letting them know how you’re using your technology and specifically what isn’t working. The more details they have, the easier it is for them to fix it.
2. If you have plans for new technology next year, get those conversations started today.
Many times, teachers would have brilliant ideas for how to use technology in the classroom but wait until too late into the summer to try and implement. Once again, with everyone gearing up for the new school year in August, it’s too late to begin.
A few tips for implementing new technology:
- Start by talking to your administrators and building principals. When they have bought into your plans, you’ve instantly earned another advocate to help bring implementation to pass.
- Talk to your IT staff and tell them about your plans--not just the technology pieces but the impact it will have on students. The IT staff is more invested in your students' success than you may realize. Be prepared for your IT people to discuss any holes in your plan, but ask them how you can help solve those problems that may arise.
- Learn that technology today! If you have plans for new hardware, software or apps, start playing with them today (or as soon as you can) so you can be prepared when the new school year begins.
3. Are you laughing about implementing new technology because of the state of the budget?
I get it. I know budgets are incredibly tight and schools are struggling, but there are still ways for you to move forward. Have you heard of DonorsChoose? It’s a great way to fundraise for projects in your classroom. This website allows people near and far outside your community to financially support your classroom. Also, if you get your project in by early July, you have a chance to get matching dollars! Typically, companies and philanthropic organizations are offering matching dollars in July and August, so take advantage!
We have a podcast about donorschoose.org that we just released, and we’d be happy to help you with getting your project started. We will even promote it on our social media channels.
4. Never forget that it all begins with your objectives. Technology comes last.
Technology is great because it helps us accomplish a lot, and it allows our students access to a wealth of information. We can personalize education to individual students and allow students to grow and learn outside of direct teacher instruction. But remember that the teacher is still what’s driving learning and that you always start with your learning objectives, plan the lessons and then see where technology can make you and your students more efficient.
5. Are you laughing/desperate because you don’t have a tech team to even help?
Reach out to us here at OPSRC if you need advice on how to maintain the computers and projectors in your classroom. We have a guide we’d be happy to send out if you have questions about how to keep things in tip-top shape for your students.
You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at (405) 651-9215.