If you’re asked to imagine a traditional classroom, chances are that image includes chalkboards, books, desks, loose-leaf paper and pencils- but is that accurate in today’s classrooms? These days, classrooms are much more likely to use Smartboards and iPads. Unfortunately, many aspiring teachers don’t have the technology skills that principals and school administrators want to begin incorporating into their classrooms, as our infographic below shows:

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Because of the technological skills gap in potential teachers, teachers with technology skills have a huge advantage in the job market. So what exactly are hiring principals looking for in potential teachers, and how can teachers begin to incorporate technology into their classrooms?

In the current job market, principals are demanding that prospective teachers have a wide variety of digital and technical skills, including:

While many teachers are still working on developing those skills, they’re open to using technology to teach. In fact, 68% of all teachers want more classroom technology, and respondents from low-income schools are even more in favor of classroom technology, with 75% of teachers wanting more. Teachers also recognize that online gaming is a popular method of connecting with students, and nearly half of all teachers say they give their students access to web-based educational games or activities. Similarly, 43% of teachers use online video, images, and articles to supplement their lessons, 65% of teachers agree that technology lets them show students information in a unique way.

Teachers new to using technology in the classroom may be overwhelmed at the amount of available options or may not know which tools are effective and which tools are just a distraction. Use these four steps from MNU’s Mike Ramirez to get started:

  1. Find the right tools. New tools and technologies come out frequently, and teachers should constantly be on the lookout for new innovations that will encourage students to get involved with their learning. However, it’s important not to use technology just for the sake of using it; instead, teachers should evaluate various tools to determine which will best enhance and support their students’ learning.
  2. Introduce one tool at a time. Instead of completely overhauling your classroom with technology, start small and work your way up. Take a lesson that you know is well-developed already, and include one effective technology that fits well with the lesson and the level of your students. This way, you’ll be able to gradually learn how to best use technology to enhance and deepen your students’ learning.
  3. Learn to evaluate tech. Not all technology is helpful or enhancing in the classroom setting. Evaluate your technology regularly to make sure it’s having the effect you want and that you’re using it appropriately in well-developed lessons and curricula.
  4. Use technology to engage students. Technology can unite students in meaningful collaboration and creativity in a variety of ways. You may choose to use Wikis, Screencasts, or even a class YouTube account to engage your students with the current lesson. Whatever it is, make sure that it sparks your students to consider your lesson in a new, exciting way.

Technology in the classroom is well on its way to becoming a basic requirement for any job in the educational field. Teachers that are open to experimenting with new ways to use technology in their classrooms will be miles ahead of other potential teachers in the job market, and principals are already evaluating possible hires for their technology skills. Teachers need to be able to navigate the classroom using the appropriate technology to teach and engage students, and by doing so, teachers will make themselves more hirable to principals and more exciting to students. To learn more about the importance of using technology in the classroom and how you can begin incorporating technology into your teaching methods, read our free guide - Teaching with Tech: How Blending Education and Technology Gives You a Leg Up in the Workforce.