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7 Critical Factors for Designing Teacher Support
Author: Claudia Urrea, Director of Learning for Latin America at OLPC | November 9th, 2011

There is general agreement on the important role played by teachers in all the 1:1 computing initiatives, and the need to develop their capacity to facilitate meaningful learning and use of technology, inside and outside the school. Based on the experience I have developed working with leaders from different OLPC programs around the world, and designing and facilitating multiple training sessions, I came up with a number of factors that help determine the success of any teacher training initiative:

1. Create a learning team in charge of training and supporting teachers, as well as the rest of the community, and keep them motivated and involved. The number of people and skills of the members of the team should be defined according to the characteristics of the local initiative, its strengths and needs; and should have a local and/or central presence, depending on how the initiative is structure.

2. Identify local needs and strengths. Make sure that clear goals are define for the initiative and that needs, strengths and contexts are considered when defining the approach as well as content of any initiative that is looking to build the capacity of teachers and administrators.

3. Take into account the evolution of the initiative and its people to create new and modify existing training sessions. You may want to use a survey to identify the needs and interest of people participants.

4. Introduce multiple strategies to monitor and support teachers, and other members of the community. These strategies may include not only workshops, but also coaching in the classroom, virtual meetings, telephone help lines, etc.

5. Foster the development of a local learning community of support for teachers and administrators. You may want to offer afterschool opportunities for parents and other community members to get involve in the initiative and support students and teachers, and also create strategic alliances with academic institutions that may be able to provide support, or bring volunteers to the schools.

6. Put in practice a methodology that reflects what you expect from teachers, and administrators: make sure to integrate the use of reading materials for support and theoretical background, facilitate discussion and reflection sessions, and practical session where technology is used as a tool to learn with.

7. And finally, and more importantly, continue to design, plan, and revise your training and capacity building initiative at all times.

Let’s continue to empower teacher to foster meaning learning experiences for our children and to value learning that happens not only at the school, but all moments of their lives.

As the Director of Learning for Latinoamerica at OLPC, Claudia Urrea is in charge of designing, developing, and implementing a learning vision for the region. She also collaborates with all One Laptop per Child (OLPC) learning teams and local coordinators in countries around the world to provide a solid learning development program. She has consulted with ministries of education (Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Haiti) and organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank, and SEED-Schlumberger to rethink learning.

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