Millennial Educators Are Looking for Tech-Rich Schools

(This blog post is part of an ongoing series of the Millennial Educator)

As I talk to Millennial Educators, (those between the ages of 23–35) we often get to talking about technology and what their hopes and dreams are for their classroom.

The first thing I hate to admit is that the younger of this generation, and those in pre-service programs preparing to become educators, probably went through schools that had access to different technology then most of us had.

The new normal Millennial Educators today are looking for schools that are technology-rich in student devices. Many of them went to school with document cameras, projectors and WiFi being the norm as part of their own schooling. Much like I expected there to be a TV and VCR in the corner of my room when I started teaching, these technologies are now seen as the norm.

I’ve even had pre-service teachers and those just starting their field in education tell me they went to high schools where they were in a 1:1 environment. We’re starting to see the first generation of students who were in 1:1 environments now become teachers….and their expectations of the classroom are going to be different then ours were because of this exposure to learning.

I talk with many 20-something teachers today who tell me they’ll only work in a school that is 1:1 (Middle School/High School), or that the school needs to have enough COWs (Carts On Wheels) so they don’t feel under-resourced.

If this is what the next generation of educators is looking for and expecting, what are schools doing to “sale” their school and district to these new teachers?

Try this:

Make Technology Resources Easy to Find on the School Website

Trying to find what technology resources a school has available to teachers is sometimes difficult. I went to 15 different (random)school websites and trying to find

A) The link to their tech sections B) The list of resources available to teachers and students (which was also difficult to determine whether it existed at all)

Instead of hiding this information, how can you make it easily accessible for a new hire to find? What if on your school website you put:

  • A picture of the technology setup of a classroom: the projector, document camera and even the wireless router. Be sure to note in a caption, something like “Every (insert school here) classroom comes equipped with a ceiling mounted projector, document camera and DVD player.” Or whatever your school setup is.A couple quick pictures and you show what a teacher….and new student can expect in their classroom.
  • If your school is 1:1 (one device for every student), or BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), make sure that gets promoted on your school site. And, somewhere within the information of the program, have a quick quote from a student that is big, bold and tells your schools story. For example:
I can’t imagine what it was like to learn without my laptop ~ HS Freshmen

A simple quote from a student (I made this one up, so please ask a student and find your own quote) on the web page goes a long way to prepare new-to-your-school teachers what they can expect, while promoting your program.

  • If you’re not in a 1:1 or BYOD school, don’t be afraid to put the information out there about how much technology your school does have. 5 COWs, 2 iPad carts, sound good, but 150 laptops for students and 30 iPads sounds like more. ;)
  • Don’t be afraid to put the student to computer ratio on your website as well. So, if you have COWs and a computer lab, you can still boast “At (insert school name here) we have 1 computer for every 4 students! That’s a total of 250 student computers used for learning!”

Move the Technology links under Teaching and Learning

As I browsed random school websites, I noticed that technology information, links, resources and contacts are often located under the heading of “Department” and not under the heading of “Teaching and Learning”.

If we believe that technology leads to better teaching and learning, then let’s show that by moving the information where it should be. Sure, technology is a department within most school organizations, but the impact that technology has, or so I believe, is on teaching and learning. This might seem like a small move, however I feel it could have huge impacts for the way we frame the conversation around technology within schools and school systems.

If our communities and teachers start to view technology as part of teaching and learning, and not a department that oversees the email server, then we start to change the narrative on it’s impact in the classroom.

Ask a Technology Question in the Interview

Do you ask any technology questions during your interview process? If not then I suggest adding one in. Not only does it give you a feel for what the teacher knows, understands or believes about technology in the hands of students, but it also let’s them know that this is something that is important to you and your school.

If you are the leader of a school that is 1:1/BYOD or going 1:1/BYOD, I believe it should be what your questions revolve around.

If this is the teaching and learning environment you already have at your school, then ask questions that allow you to hire educators that know how teaching and learning changes in these environments.

I find it fascinating that many school leaders who are in a 1:1 school do not ask questions about teaching in that environment during their interviews. An upcoming post in this series will share a list of questions an administrator can use during interviews.

What other key steps can a school take to show off tech-richness to the Millennial Educator?

Originally published at