– INITIATING –
Just as students have a wide variety of needs, so do teachers. One way to identify the needs of teachers is by creating technology PD that is customized. Prior to planning PD, surveys can be a valuable tool in determining teacher needs. Using a combination of closed and open-ended questions, “Try to ascertain which members of your teaching staff need training on specific technology tools or techniques and determine which are comfortable using technology but need more help integrating it into instruction” (Roland, 2015). PD sessions can then be targeted based on staff interest and ability. PD sessions can also be “self-contained so that teachers can choose to attend workshops only in the areas where they need extra learning” (Roland, 2013).
The technology coach at my former school did a wonderful job of hosting PD that was teacher-driven and needs-based. Workshops for new tools were leveled for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners. Other workshops were created after polling staff to identify needs and interests. By avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach, he was able to effectively implement technology innovation in our district.
All PD walks a fine line between theoretical and practical. Quality technology PD should begin with a solid presentation or discussion of WHY this particular tool, device, or method is a good fit for meeting the needs of learners. Once a theoretical basis exists for using the technology, teachers need the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the technology while under the guidance of an experienced peer or coach.
This critical shift in how PD occurs can be described as dissemination versus implementation. Teachers need the opportunity within a PD session to work directly with the new tool or method being introduced. This can be accomplished through a learning environment “where we see demonstrations, engage in simulations, have time to practice new technique with expectations of ongoing support and collaborative reflection and sharing” (Kelly Young as cited in Ferlazzo, 2015).
– SUSTAINING –
Sean McComb, a National Teacher of the Year, believes that once-and-done PD is rarely effective. McComb advocates a three-part approach to successful PD: give teachers choice, make the content relevant and job-embedded, and don’t limit exposure to a single session. Successful and sustainable change requires that teachers “learn about a way to improve, have the opportunity to plan and implement, and then reflect and adjust, ideally in company and collaboration with colleagues or a coach” (McComb as cited in Ferlazzo, 2015).
Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching (1st ed.). Corwin.
Gonzalez, J. (2016). How to Plan Outstanding Tech Training for Your Teachers | Cult of Pedagogy. Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/tech-training-for-teachers/
Iste.org. (2017). ISTE Standards For Coaches. [online] Available at: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches [Accessed 6 Oct. 2018].
Roland, J. (2015). Empowering teachers to implement technology-driven educational programs. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=569