How to Hire Tech Savvy Teachers

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Don Lipper is looking for help from teachers. He’s writing an article for a national education magazine about how to hire teach savvy teachers in a K-12 setting. Don wants educators to respond to him to his six questions.

What makes a tech savvy teacher? (Is it attitude or knowledge of specific minimum of hardware/software packages?)

How should a tech-savvy teacher create lesson plans? What is the mix of off-the-shelf apps, teacher created projects/apps and traditional media (books etc.)?

Is tech-savvy teaching actually more effective or is it really just a dazzling death by PowerPoint?

When hiring a teach-savvy teacher what are some do’s and don’ts? What are some warning signs?

Great questions, Don.

He’s on a killer deadline, so he’d appreciate a quick response.

If you prefer, respond to this post. Don can pick up your comments.

Q1: Perhaps my response addresses attitude. Any teacher can learn to use a software program, so that’s not as important as whether a teacher will make the effort to use electronic technologies in schools.

The term tech savvy probably means different things to different people. Independent software developers are tech savvy and know enough about school content to write education software. What they consider a tech savvy teacher is not necessarily the same as a teacher who completes a computer class as part of earning a teaching credential.

I’ve fussed with similar questions for several decades. Perhaps it’s a biase in my sample. Tech savvy educators seem “busy.” Many are hyper curious about things of limited interest to most teachers. I’m drawn to curiosity over credentials.

Lack of “teaching credentials” restricts experienced tech savvy engineers and others who qualify by knowing content from teaching science and math and who want to teach, but districts demand they take education certification classes. The demand for “credentials” seems an off-target obstruction.

The biggest challenge has been finding people who will maintain their own enthusiasm for using say Tablet PCs when other teachers express limited interest. Tech savvy teachers I know express difficulties tolerating non-tech savvy educators over the long run, and for schooling’s non-instruction demands.

Many tech savvy teachers see ways with technologies to reduce paperwork, but cannot because of “school rules.” For example, one school in SoCal confiscates Tablet PCs and other “unauthorized” electronic devices teachers and students bring on campus.

Q2: The “should” question seems off track. School administrators will establish “should” criteria. Then, teachers will do what they know how to do in order to assist students learn whatever curricula schedules call for on a given day.

Q3: Tech savvy teaching gives priority to academic content, not to technology, entertainment, student motivation, or other distractions. PowerPoint slides allow teachers to offer precise information and to sequence that information to make an academic point efficiently. “Death by PowerPoint” seems a cynical statement, unworthy of an educator.

Q4: When hiring, I look for curiosity, ambition, and willingness to figure out how to use electronic tech in spite of distractions and obstructions.

What do you think? How do you address Don’s questions?

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Robert Heiny
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in [I]The Encyclopedia of Education [/I](1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for [I]TuxReports[/I].com.