Classroom for Teachers Pushes Classroom Technology to New Levels


Scott Fincher works with Alisa Black and Lindsey Hinkins as they learn Google Classroom.

Carbon School District Press Release

A row of students laugh as they learn a new way to do things on a computer. Another student sits in back with an instructor and gets exposed to new ideas about using and maintaining a web site. It looks like any other computer lab, with students doing what they should in Carbon School District. The difference here is that the students are teachers and staff, and so are the instructors in the classroom.

The Tech Café, held every Monday and Wednesday afternoon at Carbon School District’s Technology Center, has been a huge success in getting employees up to speed on new ways to use computer technology, and with Chromebooks now being introduced into many levels of the school system, it is more important than ever.

“Learning is the same for all ages,” said Rob Bradley, one of the instructors at the Tech Cafe and a teacher at Carbon High School. “Students are students.”

Bradley, along with Scott Fincher and Paulie Vogrinic, are charged with bringing staff who attend up to speed on various aspects of technology. 

While Bradley was working with MarryAnn Brown from Helper Middle School one afternoon, Fincher and Vogrinic were working to train some fifth grade teachers from Sally Mauro Elementary and one instructor from Helper Middle School to learn Google Classroom software that they will be using with students. 

“There is no real one way to do this,” Fincher told the students. “You just need to figure out what you want the web page to do for you. You need to plan what to use the Chromebooks for.”

For the two hours the students were in the classroom, it was all hands-on learning. As Fincher, who led the discussion from a smart board, and Vogrinic, who sat with the students to help with problems proceeded, little and large epiphanies came to those working on the computers. Just like the kids they teach, smiles, little yelps of happiness and even celebration came from the teachers as they learned and were able to complete tasks they would need to set up their Chromebook infrastructure so they could teach the kids in their classrooms. 

The classes that are taught vary from week to week with different kinds of technology being supported all the time with three instructors. 

“This week we are teaching Google Classroom,” said Fincher, who in regular hours is a teacher at Mont Harmon Middle School. “But with the three of us here, we can be teaching something and we can accept drop ins who need instruction on other issues at the same time. We can work with them individually.”

That’s where the word Tech Café comes from. Staff can order up what they need and the need can be filled, just like a food order would be taken and provided in a restaurant. In other words, the Tech Café is an open ended, “get help as you need it” opportunity. Any school district staff member desiring to “upgrade” themselves in any area of educational technology can drop in anytime during the set hours and get help and training.

The technology training is important because presently every sixth-12th grade student in the district has access to a Chromebook for use in school and at home. And this year, every fifth grade classroom has a Chromebook lab. Many elementary classrooms also have I-pads available for student use. The vast majority of classrooms in the district have SmartBoards and rooms without SmartBoards have mounted projectors. The Tech Café is intended to elevate student learning and performance by training those that instruct. 

Classroom management systems, such as Google Classroom and Hapara, help teachers to not only keep students engaged, but also to streamline the work flow. Students can learn with all kinds of technology aides at their fingertips. And teachers can know what they are doing in the classroom and tell whether they are engaged in proper learning or doing something else.

Teachers can also get relicensure points that are available for appropriate time and topics that are taught.

The Tech Café has become popular, and as the growth of the use of high tech in classrooms continues to expand, it will be a viable part of keeping those who teach children up-to-date on all aspects of this trend in education.

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