So the question becomes, how do we provide quality professional development for teachers? It is a process. As your district grows and changes in the 1:1 environment, so will your professional development (PD) sessions. As part of the Instructional Coach team I am also a member of the professional development team in our district. I have helped provide after school and summer PD for the last four years. Our PD has evolved just as our teaching and learning has evolved since we went 1:1.
Solid professional development is paramount in a 1:1 district. Our PD on institute days used to be sit and get. Those days were targeted to classroom teachers. If you weren't a classroom teacher it was very painful. Then we started doing breakout sessions similar to a conference. Staff members could pick sessions that were relevant to their skill level, or what they were teaching. We had very few outside speakers. Teacher leaders were paid to prep and present. All types of teachers stepped up to provide PD to their peers. Now we have moved to a true ed camp model. We are all experts at something and we can all learn from each other. We will still have to have some whole group sessions at our institute days since there are some things that are not negotiable like disaster drill prep, summative assessment in-service, and other whole district initiatives.
I really wanted to talk about how I do my after school sessions now (sometimes I do them at outside conferences and institute days too). The sessions are 90 minutes long. Teachers get continuing education units for attending. When I am prepping I keep in mind the fact that teachers say the biggest thing they lack is time. I make my presentation a resource that they can refer back to at a later date. The following slides are examples from a session called - Integrating Technology into the Reading and Writing Workshop. These slides deal with using Evernote to conference with students. In this instance the app is used for teacher productivity. First, I discuss how the app will improve teaching and learning. If there are members of the audience who have used it I ask them to share their story as well. Again, we can always learn from each other. They may have some insight that I had never considered. This one way to bring in and engage your audience right from the start. I think it is very important to do that at any PD session.
Next we look at features of the app or what makes the app unique. In this instance I explain the difference between a note and a notebook, attachments, sharing, syncing across devices, etc. Also at the bottom of this slide you see the word augmentation. I try to tie in the SAMR ladder for all my presentations. In this example the app is a direct tool substitute with functional improvement. I don't like those wheels that show different apps for different levels of the SAMR ladder. It is not the app that determines the level. It is the objective of the lesson, and what skill(s) you are assessing that determine where the app is on the ladder.
I also give the attendees a challenge. This gives them a chance to have "sandbox" time with the app. This is what I was talking about previously that students do. They always afford themselves some "sandbox" time to see what the app can do. I find that the challenges give the teachers a structure to work with instead of saying, "Just try the app". It is exploration with a purpose. The logo of the app in this slide is linked to the official You Tube channel for Evernote. If there is not an official channel then I will search for a quality video for the app. This way teachers can refer back to this tutorial later. Under the logo is the link to the apps Twitter handle (if they have one). I have been able to tweet at app designers, and get answers to my questions in minutes or hours. Generally app designers are eager to hear from their users, especially teachers.
I do my presentation one of two ways depending on the topic, audience, and amount of time that I have for the presentation. The first is to introduce the first app and then give the challenge, introduce the second app and do the challenge and so on. The other way that I do it is to introduce all the apps and then allow for one large chunk of work time at the end. I allow for work time in all the training sessions that I present. It is better for teachers to work while all the information is fresh in their minds. I then act as facilitator, and walk around the room answering questions while they are working on the challenges.
I do all my presentation slides in Google Slides, publish them, and then make a bitly link that I share with all attendees. This way attendees can go back to the presentation at a later date to get the information they need.
I have gotten good feedback using this method in my PD sessions. How do you do PD? I would love to hear how you give or get PD that meets your needs.