By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator  

Tapping into the future of teaching means tapping into technology. The Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Baton Rouge is making sure educators are prepared.  

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Teachers gather for a breakout session during the ISTE cohort on technology training held March 26 – 27 at the Tracy Center in Baton Rouge. Photo by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator  

 

Thirty teachers from schools throughout the diocese gathered March 26-27 at the Bishop Robert E. Tracy Center in Baton Rouge for a workshop on education technology provided by the International Society for Technology in Education, ISTE.  

According to CSO superintendent Dr. Melanie Verges, ISTE partnered with the National Catholic Educational Association to provide classes to certify teachers as a “technology educator.”  

“They’ll be using technology in their classrooms not only more frequently but in a way that promotes higher order thinking skills and increases rigor in their classrooms,” said Verges. “Our goal is to evangelize hearts, educate minds, encourage talent and embrace the future, and technology is a tool that goes across all of those parts of our vision.”  

Following the two-day cohort, participants will go through nine weeks of online work, then develop a portfolio demonstrating “they’ve learned and mastered and have the ability to incorporate these standards into their lessons,” stated Marcie Hebert, ISTE facilitator.  >

“It’s a powerful process because it gets (teachers) to really look at technology and why we use technology and how we use technology,” Hebert said.  

She added that while technology is an important tool it should not be “the thing that drives our decision making” but it will help meet educational goals.  

“It’s going to give teachers frameworks that help them to analyze technology use as well as looking at some of the big concepts going on right now like digital citizenship,” stated Hebert.  

Zachary Leger, who teaches engineering and computer architecture at St. Michael the Archangel High School in Baton Rouge, said ISTE standards are utilized by most states but “they are very vast and they are very broad.”  

“But to be able to come to a conference like this, get a better understanding and then break them down in a way that we can bring them back to our teachers and help them implement those standards is only going to help the school systems that we work in,” said Leger. “So, having standards in place to help kids use it in the proper way and expand upon what they’re doing and empower themselves is a great opportunity.”  

Brian Tullier, technology coordinator and moral philosophy teacher at St. John Interparochial School in Plaquemine, welcomes the ISTE standards, something that’s been a challenge when working collaboratively on programs like Google Docs.  

“With those standards we can collaborate not only with teachers at our own school but with teachers at other schools and having a workshop like this gives us cohorts to share ideas. In technology I think that’s such an important thing,” said Tullier.  

Rafael Reyes, a math teacher at St. Francis Xavier School in Baton Rouge, said the workshop opened his mind to new avenues of teaching tools.  

“I’m getting excited about the use of technology in my class,” said Reyes.  

The ISTE cohort was paid for with Title II federal funding, which supports teacher training and development. Those who become certified as technology educators can then take that knowledge back to their schools and share it with others.  

The CSO is the second school system in Louisiana and the first Catholic school system to host the cohort.  

“The research is clear,” said Verges. “If a teacher has a lot of skill and talent, the students learn more.”