New Approaches to Organizing Professional DevelopmentEdit

  • OpenSpace is a website which presents a new paradigm for professional development. Built around the "Law of Two Feet" this face-to-face model encourages people to form discussion groups only on topics which interest them, and when uninterested, you must get up and use your two feet to go join another group which might interest you more. For more on this approach, see: OpenSpace Professional Development. Another twist on participant participation is The Fishbowl: There are four tables in the middle of the room, with eight chiefs, sponsors, and partners discussing their reactions and insights about what’s been presented. The rules are interesting. Once they have said two things, made two statements, then they have to leave their table, and anyone else in the room can come up and take their seat.
  • Creating the conditions for deep learning experiences probably requires more than a "drive by training." Bud the teacher blogs about an 8 hour "course" which uses presentations from the K12Online Conference as vehicles for reflective learning which the teachers will present about.
  • An eLearning course for educators could be delivered 20% face to face, 80% online. The course could cover problem-based learning, Read/Write Web tenets, leadership development, etc. The course could be modularized and educators could challenge some of the portions.[1]
  • Matt, on the ISEnet ning talks about a professional development workshop he ran that had each academic department engaged in using a web2.0 tool to produce an authentic artifact. Student experts were on hand to help each department use the tool. The departments then came back together to present their work.
  • Reflecting on one's teaching & learning can be a valuable professional development exercise. Some schools have an expectation for each educator to keep a blog that would serve as a reflective journal for what goes on in their classroom. Another idea is to compile what you're learning about teaching in a wiki. Another idea is for a school's blog to be a "think tank" for the faculty to discuss ideas related to the school.[2]
  • Read Will Richardson's post "Business as (Un)usual" on this topic. Carolyn Foote comments there, "Each teacher knows best what they need to learn;" and Chris Lehman says ask, "What will you do to extend the workshop after it’s over?"
  • "Technology gives us access to classroom practice in hundreds, if not thousands, of classrooms around the world. It gives us access to teachers who may be more creative than we are or who, at least, are ahead of us in learning about some of the options that exist. No other form of professional development is as personal and as universal at the same time. The tools are out there. The knowledge exists. What remains to be seen is what we do with them." -Nancy A. McKeand [3]

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Types of Workshops, Meetings, TrainingsEdit

  • Repeating a training topic all day long: offer a training on a topic every period of the day, so if a teacher has a free period they can come at that time for the training.
  • Sharing Sessions: have a meeting at which the teachers will be standing up to share a successful integration strategy or idea. Set up two projectors so there is no down time between teachers getting ready to show their idea.
    • Tablet "SWAP" sessions: create cute acronyms for meetings to share tablet ideas beginning with the word "Swivel"... e.g. SWAP stands for Swivel With a Pastry. Pioneered at CCDS, these meetings are sharing sessions supplemented with great food.
  • "Moodle Mondays" - Monday morning sessions on how to use Moodle. Anyone can drop in.
  • "Speed Geeking" - Imagine a PD experience structured like speed dating. Ms. Cofino describes it here.
  • Quid Pro Quo - Teachers receiving a piece of technology (such as a tablet) are expected to participate in professional development.
  • Summer paid time - Three day workshops in the summer, devoted to re-engineering curriculum to take advantage of tablets.

Some Keys to Successful Staff DevelopmentEdit

  1. Peer to peer instruction. Encourage colleagues to share and celebrate lessons that work.
  2. Instruction that lasts. It should be ongoing, not a one-time event.
  3. Follow-up support. Whether through mentoring or site visits teachers need support to transfer skills from training to the classroom.
  4. Motivation. Use financial incentives, laptops, public recognition, good food, etc.
  5. Group projects. Working in teams puts participants at ease and inspires better outcomes.
  6. Evaluation. Teachers should be responsible for demonstrating what they've learned.

Defined Outcomes from Richardson & Nussbaum-Beach's "Powerful Learning Practice"Edit

Teams from various schools meet over the course of a year. These are the desired outcomes for this professional development practice:

  • Knowledge: An understanding of the transformative potential of Web 2.0 tools in a global perspective and context and how those potentials can be realized in schools
  • Pedagogy: An understanding of the shifting learning literacies that the 21st Century demands and how those literacies inform teacher practice.
  • Connections: The development of sustained professional learning networks for team members to begin experimenting and sharing with other team members and online colleagues from around the world.
  • Sustainability: The creation of long term plans to move the vision forward in participating districts at the end of the program.
  • Capacity: An increase in the abilities and resources of individuals, teams and the community to manage change.

Reposted under CC2 license from: Sheryl's site.

"Ten Pillars for Successful Professional Development"Edit

Check out Bernie Poole's "Eight Pillars" for success of professional development at:

  1. Active support must come from the top.
  2. A non-dictatorial approach is best.
  3. Every school should have a core of teacher-computerists.
  4. User-friendly technical support must be available, ideally onsite and on demand.
  5. Teacher needs based on learner needs must come first.
  6. Parents and students must be involved in the evolutionary process.
  7. An ongoing technology training program must be in place.
  8. Teachers must be given the time and freedom to restructure the curriculum around the technology.
  9. Do not underestimate the ongoing cost of technology-integrated teaching and learning.
  10. Everyone involved (administration, teachers, parents, and students) must be committed to the on-going change in teaching and learning methodologies that will accompany technology integration.

How To Get Teachers To Attend Tech TrainingEdit

Check out Diane Coggins article in Technology & Learning. She has great tips for engaging faculty in the process:

  1. Send a short survey in September; sort by interest and offer short workshops
  2. Demonstrate using tools and gauge faculty interest in them to guide purchasing
  3. Use trainers from vendors to do some trainings
  4. Use teachers to offer workshops on technology they're using
  5. Offer mini-workshops before the school day begins
  6. Work with grade level teams and academic departments
  7. Look at and use curriculum maps
  8. Use shared bookmarks
  9. Provide books with easy activities teachers can do now
  10. Visit classes and labs when tech is being used
  11. Plan for before, during, and after activities

Thesis ReflectionsEdit

by Craig Nansen

I wrote my thesis for a Specialist Degree in Educational Technology on this topic. The results totally changed our approach to technology staff development, and I had strong support from our administration team and school board to do so.

When I turned in my first premise for the thesis I was planning to take the easy way out and document how well our staff development model worked. We offered workshops after school, evenings, and weekends and during the summer. We offered them most of the year (September, December and May had little participation due to the start of the school year, the end of the school year, and the holiday season.) Each year we had a participation rate of around 30-35% of our staff with many taking more than one workshop so that they could earn graduate credit. We were proud of our technology staff development program and had presented at national conferences about it.

When I ran the numbers to back up my premise it turned out that over a period of years it was the same teachers taking the workshops each year. The same teacher that took AppleWorks on the Apple IIe took ClarisWorks on the Macintosh and MS Word on a Windows machine. We had about 60% of our staff that took few or none of our workshops.

My second premise was that an infusion of money, paying teachers stipends to attend workshops on their own time would increase participation. We received a grant to do this for one school year. The results did not change much, still missing over 50% of our staff.

The next bit of research was into why those 60% did not get involved. The answers were varied but realistic - many coached or had other school activities, some had second jobs during the year and summer, others had family commitments that were hard to work around (kids in activities, supper to put on the table, spouses with night jobs, etc.). Plus the fact that teachers are just plain busy people.

My thesis basically ended up being about teaching adult learners and not specifically about technology staff development. I could go on for 100 pages or so on this topic. Actually I did, that was about the length of my thesis :-)

Our solution was to bring the technology staff development into the school day. We hired five full time educators, who we called Curriculum Technology Partners, to work directly with the classroom teachers in our 12 elementary schools. They worked together with the teacher (as a *Partner*) to enhance their day to day *Curriculum* with *Technology* interventions. These people do not do troubleshooting, and they work with the teacher and not the students. They will present to the students as they model a technology or an intervention, but the teacher must be part of the planning and implementation of the lesson - The teachers are not allowed to leave the room during the presentation.

At the secondary level we have three Technology Facilitators supporting three middle schools and two high schools. The staff members "facilitate" the use of technology in their schools. These positions, which require an education degree, also involve other technology support rolls. These were our original technology positions that supported K-12 and were restructured to support 6-12.

In addition to these positions, we also have our regular technology support staff for equipment and network.

We are able to provide training and support for technology integration to 100% of our staff. We still supplement this with workshops on specific technology interventions with after school and summer workshops. This January one of our district wide staff development days will be 100% technology breakout sessions. We are currently putting together 25 workshops, each about two hours long, for that staff development day. Here is where we push the new technologies such as SMART Board, Qwizdom Classroom Response Systems, United Streaming, making podcasts, blogs, wikis, Web 2.0, Photoshop Elements, digital photography, classroom web pages using School Center, etc. They will be able to earn graduate credit through our local university.

When this staff development day is done, what we will have done is expose our teachers to more tools that they can use. The teachers will then work with the technology staff assigned to their school to implement these technology interventions into their daily teaching.

The ultimate purpose of this program is to improve the teaching and learning that takes place in the classroom through the use of technology.

From: ISED-L list, 11-8-07 Andrea Jenkins Subject: Re: Professional Development

At my school, PD is very important. Lower School teachers take advantage of it the most, primarily due to the fact that we all teach every academic. Here are the different ways PD happens for our faculty:

  • on-site PD; experts in their fields are brought to the school to offer on-site training and support. This happens either on school days, with subs covering classes, or it on designated PD days when the students have the day off; usually our beginning/end-of-year work weeks have some sort of on-site PD
  • off-site PD; faculty is encouraged to attend workshops/conferences during the year to help them advance their own instruction; we look carefully at what we attend, especially if it involves travel, to make sure it will be of max. value.
  • summer studies; most of our extensive/lengthy PD occurs over the summer; groups of teachers will attend week/multi-week institutes to better develop and align the curriculums
  • books; a simple $20 book can change the thinking of a teacher, and therefore teachers are encouraged to purchase theory and instructional books at the expense of the school
  • professional learning communities; once a month, we dismiss early so our faculty and staff can gather together in professional learning groups; these groups can directly or indirectly impact our students; mostly, it fosters collaboration and a committment to ongoing learning; also, it sends a message to our parents and students that we valueour own learning and coming together as students ourselves
  • academic specialists; one of the best ways we provide PD is by having academic specialists; these specialists can serve as coaches to the entire faculty, providing daily support all year long; specialists attend numerous workshops, read books, research, and then bring the learning back to the faculty to implement and support; this is proving the BEST PD, as it allows for follow-through all year long, year to year; salaries for the specialists do not come out of the PD budget.

As you can see, PD is one of the central values at our school. It is always encouraged, and most PD requests are granted (within reason). Money raised from our annual benefit goes directly into PD funds, to financially support the above endeavors. There are a few guidelines we try to adhere to when it comes to PD. They are:

  • experts are the best way to go; choosing a seminar based on topic alone is still a tricky bet it we do not know the presenter's own philosophies. A few times we have invested in workshops, only to find that we got little out of it; we make sure we know it will be worthwhile
  • we like to go in pairs or groups, if possible; there is great value to immediately discussing the content with a colleague to better solidify the information and also learn from each other; it also gives us reference points later in the year as we continue to revisit these topics; also, it helps if several of us hear the same message and can implement in several grade levels
  • providing a way to share our learning; we often have follow-up meetings where workshop participants share their knowledge with their teams/division


As I stated above, our annual benefit is the source of most of our financial support for extensive (i.e. expensive) PD; mostly it involves the summer studies; we have sent teachers to workshops in NY for several weeks, Cairo for 2 weeks to speak at a conference, week-long university institutes with the top experts for 6 of our MS teachers, and several others.

Other, smaller, PD efforts are funded out of our PD budget, which is in the tens-of-thousands. If more funds are needed, we continually rely on parents who are eager to support our curriculums for funds to help support this.

One thing I think our school does not do enough of is visit other schools. Speaking with other educators is the cheapest, and sometimes most effective way to adjust/enhance our own learning and understanding. We should do more of this, as I personally walk away with so much each time I do! There is not a mandated requirement, just the expectation that everyone will do something to better advance their growth. Most of us really want to go.


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