For our March PD, our administration asked us to offer our instructional technology professional development during teachers’ planning periods instead of on our delayed Wednesday morning time. I love to try something different, but I was concerned about teachers’ reception to meeting during planning periods. Our 110 teachers are already pulled in so many directions during this time each day, so I knew I had to make the PD meaningful and relevant. I am thankful that I have a team of 5 full-time teachers who also work as Technology Teacher Leaders (TTLs) to help create meaningful PD experiences for our teachers.
- Step 1 – Survey our teachers. This year’s instructional tech PD sessions have offered choice and they have tied to our school focus on reflection. For March, I wanted to expand beyond reflection. So we created a Google Form with a few simple questions – some multiple choice, but also an open-ended question asking them what they’d like to learn about or a problem they’d like us to try to help solve.
- Step 2 – Review results of our form. The TTLs and I met during the part of an in-service day to review the results. We sorted them by block and looked at what skills/tools our teachers most wanted to learn about. We also looked at whether they were more interested in taking a deep dive into a single tool/strategy or learning about several tools.
- Step 3 – Create a schedule. It was clear that our teachers had varied needs and wanted different things out of our PD time. We chose the most popular requests for each of the 4 blocks and decided we would offer 2 “Learn” sessions each planning period – where a TTL or myself would lead a group. In a “Learn” sessions we would teach about a tool and its application with plenty of time for questions and some time for them to try the tool themselves. To meet the needs of the other teachers who really just wanted time to explore on their own, we decided to create resources for those teachers to use during our PD day.
- Step 4 – Create resources. I love to read about edtech resources and applications and have gathered many resources – mostly collected in Evernote, our school’s internal website, and Google Drive. We wanted to gather the resources into one place for this PD. Each TTL took a topic (or 2) and created a one page Google Doc of resources and suggestions. I created the remaining resources. We then made those Docs viewable inside our district. I created a one page Google Slides with the schedule for the Learn sessions and then icons for each of the Explore options. By using the “Publish to the web” option in Slides, this became a simple “flier” for our day with interactive links.
- Step 5 – PD Day! Thanks to a donation from our pep club, we had snacks and some door prizes each block throughout the day. Teachers came to our Media Center during their 85 minute planning period for 45 minutes of tech PD time. They could chose to attend one of the Learn sessions or find a spot in the rest of the Media Center to explore resources, collaborate and create. At least one member of our instructional tech team was available to help those who chose to explore.
- Step 6 – Collect Feedback. At our school, we run all PD through “Zone” Google Classroom groups – teachers are divided into 4 groups based on the administrator who oversees their department. I created a simple Google Drawing for them to write about their learning: “something you learned or liked from today’s Tech PD time,” “something you plan to try to do as a result of today’s Tech PD,” and “something you’d like help with or something we could plan for a future PD.” I chose a Drawing instead of our usual forms, so they could have some experience with a new tool and see possibilities for the “make each student a copy” feature in Google Classroom.
Based on the comments during our PD and the responses in the Google Drawings, the day was mostly a success. Teachers found ways tools like Google Forms, Sites, Slides, Screencastify, and Adobe Spark could help them and their students meet their learning goals. I love being able to provide choice for teachers in their professional learning.
A day like this would not be possible without a great team of leaders who work together to create meaningful PD and teachers who are willing to learn and explore and continuously improve their teaching to meet the needs of all students.