Back to School with a PD idea

August 3, 2008 at 7:47 pm | Posted in Collaboration, Conference, Learning is Messy, Professional Development | 4 Comments
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It’s been awhile since my last post and now that I’m back at work, my mind is filled with ideas and plans for creating, adopting and implementing 21st century educational experiences this year at ASM.

One thing I heard repeatedly in sessions at the Laptop Institute this summer is that an essential ingredient in creating change and allowing growth is professional development (hello?? We know this already but it’s nice to hear it from others!) We can’t ask teachers to make changes without support for creating this change, but scheduling PD opportunities that meet many schedules is a difficult task. I feel that what is needed to stir up collaboration and risk-taking is to implement formal, established collaboration opportunities outside the school day.

Last April I started Tech Thursdays every other week that allowed staff to come in before or after school for tech and edtech assistance and sharing ideas. This was met with limited success mainly because 2 days a month is not enough time and opportunity to meet many busy schedules.

My idea is to start this year by establishing available Tech Drop-In times 3 days a week (Tuesday/Thursday/Friday) for staff development where I will promote and be available each day at 8:15 before school and until 6:00 after school. On Mondays and Wednesdays I plan on holding my ASA student group.

The opportunity can be promoted each Monday with an all-staff email reminder that includes items such as a collaboration opportunity announcement, MS Office tip, website, edtech tool or best practice example in an effort to hook teachers. My 10 minutes at each monthly staff meeting will be another positive way to generate interest. I’d like to keep anecdotal records of types of help requested during these sessions and success stories will be reported in our school’s staff Tech newsletter.

The before and after-school tech time (in addition to during the school day every day) would consist basically of my availability for any question or idea a colleague wants to develop. When I don’t have experience related to a specific question, it will also serve as an opportunity to model how to find answers such as use of AtomicLearning, the Help menu, or Google. If there is a lack of attendance, I plan to advertise topics, tools, skills and books to promote growth.

What do you think? Has anyone tried a similar format? Any words of advice or further ideas?



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  1. I think you will overextend yourself. I am in a school in the USA of 300 some. I have monthly Training Tuesdays on the third Tuesday of every month. Our staff is required to stay after school for 40 minutes, so this is when I have ‘tech-open’ house. Zero people come to these. Yes zero.

  2. Thank you for your feedback! I guess I feel desperate- I know there are a few teachers who often stay late, perhaps if they know I’ll be there they’ll be more open to stopping in. And I can drop by their doorways.

    Being a tech specialist can be lonely. You are right about overextending and I run the risk of getting a bad attitude! It may be a chance to start a small group. I thought I’d extend it until the Christmas holiday and then give up. I’m usually there that late anyway.

    I’ll let you know what my tech team thinks and if I do it, how it goes… Thanks for your comment!

  3. I hope the folks at the laptop institute reminded administrators that they have to lead out in making the changes in instruction and assessment that support the rolling out of 1:1 programs. Your job really can be a lonely one if the administrators are not on board and working with other learning specialists to support the integration of 21st century learning skills into the curriculum.

    You have to try everything you can to reach out and offer opportunities to create a learning community. So go for it with your plan and seek feedback from the teachers for one to one sharing of ideas. I would add to your plan the idea of attending as many team, grade level and curriculum meetings as you can where you get to show that you are a teacher and instructional designer- not so much a technical person. You might already be doing this but it is worth the effort.

    This helps in not feeling so isolated and offers you a vehicle to build on the teachers’ ideas to take little steps in enhancing them with technology and 21st century skill integration. Good teammates in the effort can be your librarian and curriculum director.

  4. Thank you David for your comments. Last year was our first year to have edtech specialists and I did attend team meetings which helped a great deal. I’ve only been out of the classroom for one year and I still remember how many surprises there are in a day and how lengthy a teacher’s to-do list is.
    My wish is that in establishing an open time before and after school will move thinking away from “let’s squeeze it into the school day” and leverage those teachers who already stay late or come early. They are actually the ones who were most willing last year. If no one comes by I can pop in on colleagues still at school and see if they need any help or share an idea.
    There were quite a few growing pains last year with the way my position was viewed. I see myself as a partner in shifting pedagogy, not mainly a tech support position. With a year behind me in this school and position, I think that this dedicated, established open house is timely.

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