Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Speak Up Survey 2013 - Teacher Voices

This week I have been sharing our results for the 2013 Speak Up Survey in a series of posts. You can check out the earlier Student and Parent perspectives by clicking on those posts. This morning I had a chance to analyze the teacher feedback and it is equally interesting. Similar to the student and parent data there were some distinct trends in the teacher feedback.

1. Powerful Digital Learning Tools
Throughout the survey teachers articulated that they are using digital learning tools with students and find them to be critical pieces of their instructional units. Teachers regularly report using Google Drive (76%), presentation software (71%), and videos they find online (65%). Additionally, some teachers are creating their own videos (29%) and exploring game-based environments (24%). When choosing digital resources teachers select tools that are referred by a colleague (71%), can be modified to meet classroom needs (71%), are sourced from a content expert organization, such as the National Science Foundation or universities (53%), or certified by an educational group (47%). When using digital tools as part of instruction, teachers have noticed specific areas where technology has enhanced students' academic success - developing creativity (88%), increased motivation to learn (81%), building collaboration skills (56%), and applying knowledge to practical problems (50%).

2. Powerful Productivity Tools
Teachers reported that technology had improved their overall effectiveness as educators by helping them be better organized (82%),  more productive (59%), and through technology's ability to quickly edit lesson plans (53%) or provide more efficient means for checking for understanding (41%). Teachers also found that technology has helped them connect more with students (59%), encourage more self-directed learning (53%), and facilitate collaboration (53%). 82% of teachers felt that the technology being used in their class was preparing students for future college or career success. In terms of how technology is being used to support student learning communicating with parents (95%), maintaining grades (71%), providing feedback to students (71%), and customizing content (62%) were some of the more common responses.

3. BYOD & Mobile Devices
Similar to parents and students, teachers are very interested in the possibility of a future BYOD environment. Currently, 38% of respondents already have students using personal devices in their classes. 67% reported regularly checking out devices or taking students to the Media Center. Teachers felt that a BYOD environment or greater access to mobile carts would increase engagement (89%), provide a means for personalizing instruction (68%), help students develop collaboration (63%) and critical thinking (58%) skills, and extend learning beyond the school day (58%). While excited about the possibilities of greater access through BYOD or mobile carts, teachers also expressed some concerns including distracted students (48%) and lack of equitable access for all students (29%).

4. Online & Blended Learning
Looking into the future teachers reported a strong interest in online and blended learning. Currently, 48% of teachers have taken an online course for professional development or would be interested in doing so (19%). 24% stated that they would be interested in teaching and online course and 31% are already implementing blended learning strategies. Another 31% are interested trying out blended learning, but have some concerns regarding student access at home (31%) and necessary professional development to create (31%) and find (25%) digital content.

5. Professional Development
As is no surprise knowing our campus, many teachers reported being engaged in on-going professional development to continually hone their practice. Popular methods for professional development outside of weekly workshops included online research (65%), face-to-face conferences (47%), podcasts and videos (41%), and using Twitter to connect with other educators (29%). Moving forward some common areas where teachers would like to develop skills were identifying high-quality content (59%), preparing for SBAC (53%), implementing new state standards (CCSS, NGSS) (41%), along with using game-based learning (35%) and formative assessment tools (35%).

6. Building the Ultimate School
Similar to the parent and student surveys, teachers were also asked to build the ultimate school. Teachers had many of the same responses including ability to access the Internet anywhere on campus (82%), ability for students to use personal devices (65%), educational mobile apps (graphing calculator, language translators) (65%), digital video and audio creation tools (59%), and tools that help students organize their work (59%). Reflecting on our technology plan it is exciting to see that our growth over the next two years are in these areas, so the "ultimate school" is becoming a reality.

7. Roadblocks or Really the Lack of Them
When asked to identify roadblocks or obstacles teachers faced when using technology our teachers reported very few besides the need for even more professional development (20%) and additional student access to devices (35%).

I have to admit that reading this data what made me the most proud is all of the responses that were 0%, especially when you consider the national averages for each question were 20-40%.
  • District policies limit the technology I can use - 0% 
  • I cannot use my own mobile device - 0%
  • Lack of reliable technology support - 0%
  • Lack of support from administrators - 0%
  • School filters or firewalls block websites I need - 0%
  • Technology that is available to me is outdated - 0%
  • There are policies that restrict my access to social media tools - 0%
Looking at all of the the results from this year's Speak Up survey it is amazing how far we have come in such a short amount of time. Two years ago we didn't have wireless, Google Apps was completely new and yet to be launched with students. We didn't have an iPad cart and had not even heard of a Chromebook. VLA was still ILP and much of the student work was paper-based. On my first day at Natomas Charter School in May, 2012 we struggled just to get YouTube or Amazon and had to use KeepVid to download videos at home.

The feedback from the Natomas Charter School community really shows that we are on the right track and continuing to build the 21st Century Learning Platform to engage all students in meaningful work. It's definitely exciting times at an exciting school.


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