In my work, I talk about professional development quite a bit. I do training with staff at my job, but a huge part of my work (and that of my colleagues) is teaching teachers.
In our experience, the PD for teachers when it comes to technology is lacking. Seriously lacking. Except for a few high flying exceptions at any school, it is more common to find teachers that aren’t getting the support they need to use the 1:1 technology they’re given (or had forced upon them). Many have trouble with the basics – turning it on, etc. This means they are not even close to using the tools in a real productive way — there’s little in terms of teaching pedagogy, classroom management, 21st century skills and how to move up the Bloom’s taxonomy ladder with the tools.
I was recently asked for some input on PD for a district. It may seem presumptuous of me to give any input, and I suppose it is. However, we benefit from seeing this tech PD from a broad perspective. I know the kinds of questions I’m asked, I know how often we get them.
Please note, I am in no way being critical of the teachers asking these questions. Just because I gravitate to tech tools very naturally and it comes really easily to me, I know it’s not that way for everyone – nor should it be. Nor should every teacher be expected to be a master of this. Some of the best teachers my kids have had have been basically luddites. It’s all about the attitude and pedagogy.
Anyway, here is are my thoughts about what a successful tech PD plan should look like:
- embedded: there is a instructional technology person — not a network person — in the schools and accessible. It’s not a special thing.
- frequent: happens as needed as well scheduled
- leveled: lets the rabbits go quickly and the snails move at their comfort level
- modeled: administrators embrace the tool, show excellent digital citizenship and use the tools when communicating with students, teachers and parents
- paradigm shifting: includes more than just the hardware/software. It’s a mindset, and it takes time
- flexible: it is responsive to changing tools and changing needs
- student focused: both in terms of why districts do this – meets kids where they are, uses tools they know outside school. AND allows students to be part of the process. Embrace these kids. Let them be part of the solution, create student tech teams.
- 4 Cs: it’s not really about the tool. It’s about empowering us to communicate, to create, collaborate and to think critically about our world. The iPads (whatever) are just a way to get there.