Monday, September 12, 2016

Technology Shouldn't Be Absent When the Teacher Is: 5 Ways to Ensure Substitutes Are Ready

Just like students, sometimes teachers are absent, whether it is for a meeting, conference, or due to illness. In a teacher's absence, it is critical that the substitute teacher step right in without any problems so the learning continues. Because so much instruction is done with the help of technology, it is also essential that reserve teachers have access to and knowledge about using the necessary technology for uninterrupted learning to happen. Here are five ways to ensure it does:
  1. Training
    For many years we have been providing technology training for our pool of substitute teachers. Each year we offer technology classes that reserve teachers can take to better understand our systems such as SMART Boards, iPads, Schoology, Google Apps for Education, and more. We want reserves to be comfortable enough to jump right in where the regular teacher left off. We offer these classes in August and during the school year.  

  2. Access to Necessary Accounts and Data
    To protect student data and ensure security of our systems, regular classroom teachers do not share their personal login username and passwords with a substitute. Instead, our Technology Department generates logins for reserves. Substitute teachers receive this information from building secretaries when they report to the school office at the start of the day.  These accounts and passwords are frequently changed protect data security.

  3. Access to Needed Hardware
    All of our classrooms have a desktop PC workstation connected to the projector, so the hardware and platform is consistent from room to room and building to building. We don't need to worry about the teacher taking a laptop home with them and there not being technology for the substitute. I was surprised recently to hear a teacher from a different district describing how their teachers use laptops but reserves are left without any computer to use since teachers take them home nightly. If your school uses laptops, be sure to have enough available for every reserve teacher so technology access for instruction can remain consistent and available.

  4. Access to Full and Clear Instructions and Files
    Our teachers leave their sub plans and files in a shared network folder that is accessible to reserve with their login. More and more often, teachers are even recording short videos and screencasts with their instructions prior to their absence, speaking directly to the students so it is clear what the lesson and assignment is. They also post this video to their Schoology classroom website and some even let the students know ahead of time that they will be gone. This eliminates any confusing or reteaching of complex content that could occur when a reserve does not fully understand or explaining things the way the teacher wanted them to do.

  5. Access to Help When Needed
    If the reserve teacher needs help, our Media Center staff is their go to point and first stop for technology questions and issues. We also have offered technology training for our paraprofessionals for years, knowing that this is not only important for them so they can better assist students, but also that a paraprofessional may often help the reserve teacher troubleshoot issues if necessary.
Do you have other tips for successfully preparing your reserve teachers to use technology for instruction? If so, please share them!

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