In the five years I’ve been our school’s tech coach, one of my main responsibilities has been designing and implementing our instructional technology learning and professional development.
As a part of that professional development, our administration designates one hour each month for instructional tech pd sessions. While one hour a month is not a lot of time, by maximizing our time and providing support in between, our instructional tech pd has been able to help teachers and their students maximize instructional technology.
The format of these once a month sessions varies. We’ve done whole staff sessions, small groups, online self-paced sessions, and everything in between. I’ve tried to make sure our teachers have variety over the course of a year and have some choice in what they do.
The sessions always tie to whatever our school goals are for the year – our technology goals or other instructional goals. This year one of our instructional technology goals is to increase the frequency with which our teachers take ISTE Standards for Students and Educators into account when planning student learning. With all teachers have to do to keep up with their content standards, AP requirements, benchmarks, end of course tests and more, we know this is a tall order. But our teachers are phenomenal and want to make sure their instruction helps prepare students for life beyond our walls, so they know technology standards are a part of that.
Because of this focused goal, each time we have instructional technology sessions, we make sure we’re being mindful of our choices and deliberate with how ISTE Standards tie into those choices.
Which brings me to what we did for our February session. Our sessions are the first Wednesday of the month from 8-9 am. Feb 7th our Technology Teacher Leaders and other teachers volunteered to lead “Share Sessions.” Each session was 10 minutes long and gave participants a glimpse at a new tool or new method for using a tool.
We started off at 7:45 with some coffee and donuts. This time gave teachers a chance to just talk – something we often don’t have time for in our busy days. This “soft start” also gave teachers a chance to talk about what topics/sessions they were interested in attending.
Each teacher-presenter created a slide in our shared Google Slides. I shared these slides with all teachers the week before so they could explore what we were offering. Teachers were able to go to whatever sessions they’d like based on their interests. Each session was also tied to at least one ISTE Standard for Students.
At the end of the morning, each teacher completed a Google Form exit ticket. Besides topic specific questions, they were also asked “What did you like about this morning’s format?” Some of the responses included:
- “It was nice being able to choose”
- “I liked the flexibility; I liked the collegial sharing; I liked the relevance”
- “I liked being able to select relevant sessions and to see practical applications”
- “The PD choices were very open and you can use these programs in different content areas”
- “I loved sharing with my peers!”
- “I liked the short information format; you learn more in less time”
So, while I know our teachers learned useful information that morning, I also learned about organizing professional development. Our teachers’ responses reinforced some important ideas:
- Choice is important – for teachers and for students.
- Teachers are professionals and appreciate the chance to learn from each other.
- Brevity is key for busy teachers.
- Teachers want practical tips and application of ideas.
Several teachers told me they used ideas they learned in their sessions in their own classrooms that week. Some followed up with me about additional coaching or co-planning lessons. Success!
I love helping facilitate teacher sharing and learning. DFHS teachers are the best!