How Advocacy Helped Save the ITRT Program
New initiatives such as Virginia’s ITRT
program—and new direction in any
organization or institution, for that matter—
tend to happen only after much debate
and discussion. The naysayers and critics
also always seem to hang around for a while, so advocacy is important not only
at the beginning of an effort, but well into its life cycle.
Although Virginia’s ed tech supporters celebrated a great success when the ITRT
program came into existence, their struggle didn’t end there. Critics attempted to
eliminate the funding by introducing a House bill in January 2007.
Without missing a beat, the Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE),
an ISTE affiliate, stepped up to the plate in its advocacy role to lobby the Virginia
General Assembly to save the ITRT positions. Members
of the House Committee on Education commented
that they had been overwhelmed by VSTE’s e-mail
campaign. As a result, the vote to eliminate the
ITRT positions never got out of the committee and
never became an issue before the full assembly,
thanks to the VSTE effort.
—George F. Washington,
Franklin County Public Schools
Of the recommendations that
researchers made for the ITRT program’s continued success, perhaps
the most compelling was the idea
that administrators should become
more involved in the program so that
they can recognize effective technology use and support their teachers’
integration efforts. A Technology
Resource Teacher Coaching Academy
in Stafford County, Virginia, echoed
this sentiment. It found variable levels
of administrative involvement in the
county. Some ITRTs indicated that
their administrators provided ample
support and encouragement, and this
was both necessary and beneficial.
But many ITRTs felt a lack of support from their principals and other
administrators for their job role and
their goal of helping teachers integrate technology into the classroom,
and this made their job duties more
Luckily, this obstacle is surmountable, as long as school administrators
take more active roles in learning
about the responsibilities that ITRTs
play in their schools. Some school divisions have hired technology administrators dedicated to managing the
ITRT program and providing ed tech
leadership within their school divisions. Stafford County Public Schools,
for example, employs a chief technology officer to offer executive-level
support to the ITRTs and technology
Most ITRTs and technology support staff report to school principals
or other administrators, however.
For these schools, a solution may be
professional learning communities or
teams of key stakeholders—including
administrators at the school, community, and central-office levels—that
meet on a regular basis for the purposes of learning, joint lesson planning, and problem solving.
Virginia’s ITRT program has made
significant progress in helping school
divisions throughout the state integrate
technology into their instructional
programs. ITRTs and support staff remain focused on engaging and motivating teachers by providing guidance
for instructional improvement with
technology integration, as they believe
their partnerships with teachers translate into better teaching, which in turn
results in increased student learning
and, ultimately, the creation of true
21 -century citizens of the world.
“An analysis of the instructional technology resource teacher (ITRT) program in
Virginia” by the Commonwealth of Virginia,
Department of Education (2007): www.
“A study of instructional technology resource
teachers in Virginia’s public school divisions:
Who are they and what do they do?” by
K.M. Hooker (2006). Unpublished doctoral
dissertation, East Tennessee State University.
“Evaluation of instructional technology
resource teachers (ITRT) program of the
Commonwealth of Virginia” by the Office
of Educational Research and Outreach,
Virginia Tech. Unpublished study.
“Understanding instructional technology
resource teachers: Ways of knowing, ways
of doing” by J.S. Streich (2007). Unpublished doctoral dissertation, George Mason
Teresa Coffman is an associate
professor at the University of
Mary Washington in Virginia,
where she teaches graduate
courses in education and instructional technology. She has
published articles on technology
integration and is completing a book on inquiry
learning and constructivism using technology.
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