Professional Development and some other weird stuff.

Out of curiosity I asked one of our student teachers what the local Dept of Ed is doing in the way of computer training for prospective teachers.  He said it was a joke.  In the one class he had he was taught how to make a PowerPoint, how to do a pod cast and how to run a Smart board.  I know the teacher he had.  She has not been in a classroom in 30 years and is definitely not a tech person.  We are doomed.  I got on line and checked the other two teacher producing schools in Montana thinking that U of M might be an exception.  Nope.  MSU has a required “Society and Computers” type course and Western has a “Technology in the Classroom” required course.  Both have very warm and fuzzy course descriptions.

This little bit of query and research came about from a school tech coordinators meeting I had just attended.  Every month the school techies get together and chat about issues, some relevant, some just BS.  The topic of training our teachers to handle some of their own tech issues came up.  From there we went to teacher professional development and the lack there of.  My elementary school is purchasing Smart projectors.  At $2000 each this is a major budget out lay for us.  By the start of next year we will have 13 of them in the elementary building, which is most of the classrooms.  Now you would think that spending $2000 per device per teacher would justify spending for some teacher time for professional development.  Nope.  From the conversation with the other techs in the group this lack of budget for PD is the norm in this area, not the exception.  Why is it that administrations are so reluctant to pay for PD?  Especially tech PD?  They just spent a fortune on the hardware and now expect it to perform magic in the classroom all by itself?  Fascinating concept.  From here we wandered to state of teacher training in the area of tech.  Since there is none all we could do was complain about the lack but we actually did come up with a solution.  The solution is hire some teaching professors that have actually taught with technology and fire a bunch that have not.  Opps, tenure.  Nuts.  That plan will not work.

Now let’s do a little thinking here.  To be a university professor and teach in the education department you need a PhD of some kind, usually in Education.  Most good classroom teachers do not get PhDs because a PhD will take them away from the classroom and cost money most teachers do not have.  Teachers do not recoup that money because most school district pay scales top out at a master’s degree.  So very few teachers experienced with teaching with technology end up with PhDs teaching at a university.  So we are pretty much guaranteed that there will be little teacher tech training for prospective teachers.

Is there a solution?  Sure.  Eliminate tenure.  Retire some of the teacher ed professors who have not seen the inside of an elementary or high school classroom in 20 years.  Hire some experienced teachers through a sabbatical program to teach from classroom experience for one year.

Teacher education seems to be frozen in time.  And that time is somewhere around the 1970s.  Teacher education programs need constant updates and those updates should come from experience classroom teachers, not research oriented professors who do not know how to use teaching technology or who do not know what to do when a fight breaks out in the classroom.

And I am starting to wander something terrible here.  Must be that 12% beer I had last night.  Nectar of the Gods.  I better post this before I get started on the present state of school funding.

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