When it comes to professional development opportunities or technology needed for your classroom, you know best what you need and what will best serve your students. However, it can be difficult to ask for it. Budgets are tight, you don’t want to seem greedy, you don’t want other teachers to think you are trying to “take” the limited funds, and, likely more than anything, you are just too busy and overwhelmed with the daily tasks of teaching to make time to ask. However, high-quality professional development and useful technology advancements can really transform your classroom. And sometimes you just need to ask. And know how to ask.
For my coursework in my Educational Technology Leadership class we are looking at ISTE Standards for Coaching 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation. More specifically, performance indicator B which reads “Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment (ISTE, 2017).” We are guided by questions about what role administration plays in in designing professional development and how to advocate for professional learning opportunities when administrators pursue new educational technology initiatives. While considering these questions, I wanted to focus on how best to communicate teachers needs/wants with administrators as they pertain to professional learning around technology initiatives.
There are many types of administrators. I have had at least 10 in my 14-year teaching career, so I have seen many different personalities and styles. But, I think it is important for teachers to keep in mind that administrators have the same goals as teachers…we all want the students in our classrooms to be as successful (academically, socially, and emotionally) as they possible can. In this age of teacher evaluations it can seem like there is this greater divide between the goals and focuses of teachers and administrators, but I don’t feel that is the case. At least it hasn’t been in my experience. The key is communication, as is the key to most all our relationships in life. Your administrator is not going to know what you need unless you tell them.
Here are some recommendations for communicating your professional needs to an administrator:
- Make a list.
Get organized. Make a list of what you are requesting and why.
- Schedule a Meeting
Don’t make your request via email or over a casual conversation in the hallway. Also, don’t have this discussion during a meeting that is scheduled for another purpose. Make your request be the purpose for the meeting.
Be direct and clear. Ask for what you need. Be specific and get to the point. Caralee Adams wrote a piece I found on the Scholastic website that speaks to this. “Often teachers don’t think through how to ask for what they want, or they’re too busy to even try. That attitude can result in missed opportunities. And grumbling in the faculty lounge, rather than raising the issue with your boss, won’t get you results (Adams).”
- Explain what you are doing and how it’s going
Administrators have a lot on their plate and a lot of teachers/grades/subjects to keep track of. Make sure your administrator knows what you are doing in your classroom and how it’s working with the training and tools you currently have access to.
- Explain how you will use the PD you are requesting.
Tell your administrator what you will do with the training or tools you are requesting. How will having these help your students more successful?
- Have a plan.
Make sure you have done your homework. How much will this training or tech tool cost? How will the administrator go about looking how to obtain your request? The more research you do, the less they might have to do. This might increase the likelihood on it getting approved.
- Thank them.
Sure, it’s part of their job. But everyone likes to be thanked and appreciated. Thank your administrator for their time and for listening to your request.
- Follow up.
If your request is granted, follow up and tell your administrator what you learned and how you are using the training or tool in your classroom. If your request was denied, follow up and ask if there is anything you can do to help facilitate your request being granted.
So now, start reflecting and researching. What do you need? What will help your students grow and succeed as 21st century learners? Make a list, have a plan, schedule a meeting, and ask!
Adams, C. (publication date unknown) Scholastic website. Retrieved on 2019, February 24 from: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/how-ask-your-principal-anything/
Gonzales, Jennifer (2017). Cult of Pedagogy Website (Retrieved on February24, 2019) from: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/letter-to-administrators/
ISTE.org. (2017) ISTE Standards for Coaches. (Retrieved on 2019, February 23) from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches