Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Re-thinking Professional Development

Photo by Sean MacEntee CC-BY
How do you train a teaching staff in the use of iPads in teaching? Or better yet, how do you help a staff see how their teaching can be transformed from a traditional model of instruction to one that leverages the power of technology to place the student at the center of the learning? We've begun investigating the move to a 1:1 iPad program at Divine Child High School. For those in our community who may have found this post we're looking at starting with only the freshmen in 2014.  So, we won't be fully 1:1 for a number of years yet. I've been asked to head up the whole program. My immediate goal is to make sure we have everything in place to ensure things go smoothly when the first class of iPads arrive in 2014.

Why wait so long? Why not start this fall? Inertia, it takes time to change practice. I want to get the staff development piece right. Step one, all of our teachers will have an iPad in their hands before they go home for the summer. Familiarity will go a long way I know, but where do I go from there? My assistant principal keeps asking me how many PD days I need next year. I really don't want to try working with a room full of 60 people at a time. That's a recipe for disaster.

My current plan, assuming I can get our administration on board, is to flip our PD and faculty meetings. I saw an awesome talk at MACUL this year by +Fred Sitkins and +Rebecca Wildman. They outlined how they've transformed professional development in their school. I'm planning on stealing all their ideas. You can find out all about what they've done on their site or in their iTunes U Course. I highly recommend checking them both out! You should also follow Fred (@fsitkins) and Rebecca (@rebeccawildman) on twitter.

In a nut shell they've gotten rid of traditional faculty meetings. Staff are expected to replace that time commitment with time spent working with their PLNs. Stuff that would be in a normal faculty meeting is delivered via video and teachers watch when they have time. PLNs find times to meet that are convenient and may be face to face or online in the evening. One member of each PLN reports out each month to the school improvement committee on the progress of the PLN. This is self directed professional development that is fully differentiated to meet the learner (i.e. the teachers) where they are!

The best part of this whole model is it is exactly what we keep saying our classrooms should look like. Not only could this be a more effective way of doing PD, it also models good teaching strategies to use with our students. The other thing I like about this model is it is rooted in professionalism and trust. It will only work if the teachers involved act like professionals and the administration trusts teachers to do their jobs. In the traditional model we try to ensure participation by requiring seat time in meetings. The problem with this is seat time does not equal participation. Compliance is not the same thing as engagement. It often looks professional, but that doesn't mean it is.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sketching out my plan on how to implement this form of PD. I'll try to share my thoughts here as I move forward.

1 comment:

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