Rethinking Professional Development

I have been thinking about how we deliver technology professional development at our school. There are currently two goals that we are trying to accomplish:

  1. Making sure teachers are aware of new tools so that they can become competent users of technology for themselves.
  2. Making sure teachers can use these tools to enrich and transform their classroom for the community of learners during that physical time and space.

To date, we have employed following methods:

  1. Using email/blog to make teachers aware of different tools and sites. We sometimes use this in a broad sweep, sometimes in a targeted fashion. This is a passive activity which requires a large amount of time and energy to follow up with those who are not self-motivated or feel overwhelmed.
  2. Use of Large Group Meeting time. These times are often used to either show the whole group a set of tools or to provide a vision or direction. This then requires individual follow-up to make sure that the tools are implemented. Good for exposure,but does not lead to inclusion or change without a self-motivated individual taking control of their own learning. It is difficult to schedule as much time with the competing factions and needs for a whole group meeting.
  3. Meet with Small Groups. These are often effective and more narrowly focused meetings which allow for greater rates of teachers being willing to experiment, play, and then embed the use of the tools for both personal and for inclusion in teaching. These are effective since different groups can be built, a group from a department, a grade level, a group with a common interest. The difficulty is carving out times for these groups to get together. It is very difficult during the school day and either before and after school. Our Brown Bag Lunches were a good example of this, but the differing lunch times and different divisional timetables makes this difficult time to schedule.
  4. One-to-one – This is often the most effective, but most time intensive from a tech staffing standpoint. It requires that we know the goals of the teachers so we can align it with the right tools. I am spending more time this year developing these relationships. Once trained, I am asking the individuals to help serve as mentors for the tools. I want to do this because I believe that teachers need to hear authentic stories from their colleagues in addition to hearing my voice. They will be more likely to try when they hear the passion from more people.
  5. Encouraging people to take advantage of wonderful opportunities online. This has been more miss than hit, as once again, it takes a highly motivated individual to make happen.

What I need is your guidance. Specifically:

  1. Are there other methods that I should use that you think will be affective?
  2. How can we rethink time so that we can facilitate more regular small group meetings?
  3. Do you think that putting this in a virtual space (Moodle, etc.) would be helpful in providing access that is not time dependent?
  4. Is there anything else I am completely missing in this conversation?

I look forward to hearing the thoughts and ideas from members of my network.

2 thoughts on “Rethinking Professional Development

  1. Vinnie — What I would include is clear administrative support for the effort. I think the top down / bottom up perspective seems to work best from my viewpoint. Other than that, you’re covering all of our edtech integration options.

  2. I have found an effective approach with my faculty (200+) is to use tools like Screencast-o-matic to demonstrate new technology ideas. I take the screencast and post it to our faculty wiki where people can pause and replay it as many times as they need. I have found this to be most successful when this approach is mixed with small group follow-up to address questions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *