Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Factors Impacting Effective Technology Use: School Climate—Professionalism

Research abounds regarding the positive impact of school climate on an extensive and impressive list of variables including drop-out rate, achievement, self-concept development, school improvement, teaching and learning, and so on (Center for Social and Emotional Education, School Climate Research). If school climate represents the quality and character of school life, does a strong correlation, therefore, exist between school climate and the manner in which classroom teachers are using digital tools and resources to elevate their professional practice?

In the upcoming 20th Anniversary Edition of the LoTi Digital Age Survey, we ask respondents to rate the following statement from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree:

I am treated as a respected educational professional on my campus.

What implications might their answers have for planning future professional development? I have to be honest; in the past, I have not really given much thought to how educators' feelings about their schools or the colleagues that they work with might correspond to their Level of Teaching Innovation (LoTi). But if we really expect to see change happen, shouldn’t we also investigate the campus underbelly to see what issues really need fixing?

For years, I have heard from schools frustrated by the fact that efforts to promote heightened uses of technology through massive hardware purchases, special technology institutes, and/or technology mentorships did not produce any measurable positive results. Think about it. If a school has the digital resources in place with abundant teacher training and support, shouldn't they have seen some measurable result? Unfortunately, many staff members feel slighted, perceive that they have little or no voice in the decision-making process, or, in general, hate their work environment. Should we really be surprised that teachers who are not involved in campus decision-making processes have trouble implementing student-centered processes in their own classrooms? Should we be surprised that the level of instructional innovation has not increased?

The LoTi Digital Age Survey 20th Anniversary Edition will provide school systems with informative data that explores how school climate factors impact innovative teaching. Understanding those factors ensures that precious staff development dollars can be spent where they are most needed—whether it is a workshop entitled, New Apps for Your Math Classroom, or a session called, Ten Ways to Improve A Positive Work Environment. If the net outcome results in more innovation and achievement, then we have all collectively done our jobs.

This blog post is the tenth in a series of fourteen online entries highlighting factors that impact the effective use of technology in today's classrooms. This series focuses on each of the research variables used to conduct comparative analyses as part of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the LoTi Digital Age Survey.