Last year our district started requiring classroom teachers to keep a digital portfolio. The purpose of beginning this portfolio was to switch the focus from teachers attending professional development on educational technology tools to focus on how teachers are using technology to improve instructional practices to support student outcomes. Prior to the 2019-2020 school year, in our district, teachers were required to attend PD several times a year on the topic of technology for recertification credit--but there was little emphasis on the use of technology in the classroom. Teachers walked away knowing more about “what” technology, but there was no requirement to think on the “how” or the “why.” Additionally, many teachers in the division were discovering and using technology in their classes on their own--but not receiving credit for the innovative and purposeful teachings they were doing themselves. As a result, our team pivoted and decided to reward and highlight teachers using technology in the classroom.
For us as ITRTs, we really believe that the role of technology is to enhance how students learn. Technology helps to make the conditions in the classroom as optimal as possible and break down barriers students may face. And this year especially, teachers are working really hard with other teachers to figure out how they can use technology in the best ways that they can. Technology has gone from an add-on in all of our lives, to taking center stage-- helping individuals do everything from finding jobs to finding love and we want the same to be true in the classroom. We want technology to shift from an add-on to be part of the initial planning. To support teachers in their technology integration we have created a tab on our website for portfolio ideas and lesson samples. In addition, our Blended Learning resource provides teachers access to our A-Z list of technology tools and ideas on how to blend them into your instruction.
The digital portfolio encourages teachers to try new tech tools, or revisit tools with new purpose, and allows them to reflect on the tool’s efficacy. Technology is not used the same in every classroom, for every lesson or for every student. And so instead of previously-- when teachers learned a new tool and then got credit if they tried it--they are now encouraged to consider what they want to achieve, and then what specific software or instructional technology is natural in supporting this outcome. Our hope is that the digital portfolio allows teachers the opportunity to use new instructional technology and reflect on its best practices in the classroom.