(this post appeared first in Kent ISD’s PD Bulletin)
The Current Struggle
Teachers want to expand, improve, and hone their craft, and they want the opportunity to learn from and with others. Many crave improvement in the area of technology, but there are obstacles that keep them from pursuing it. Here are some of the most common roadblocks:
- Lack of scheduled time for training
- Lack of sustained support
- Lack of personalized attention (due to training in large groups)
- Lack of time to collaborate and apply training directly to work
Tech training/coaching is often delivered to large groups in brief chunks of time, and follow up often does not occur because of time restraints and other priorities. This is like an Algebra teacher giving a speed lesson on quadratics. Sure, the most experienced ones will get it, but many will not, and it’s possible that an effective application to teaching may not occur for anyone.
A Proposed Solution
To address these issues, I have started pursuing tech integration within school-based PLC’s. Many districts and schools have set up grade-level or content-area professional learning communities (PLC’s) to nurture growth among staff and provide time for collaboration. This is an ideal way to incorporate technology integration for the following reasons:
- Small groups working towards the same or similar objectives
- Different levels of learners can get support and support each other more easily
- Collaboration and application can occur more easily. If a half hour or so a month can be devoted to tech focus, then a sustained and focused program can be enacted.
Examples in Action
One example of this approach is occurring at Appleview Elementary in Sparta. Here are the steps we enacted:
- Established student tech use expectations by grade level based on Common Core and ISTE standards
- Developed core integration lessons for teachers to use and reference
- Met as grade level groups to review and enhance
- Continuing to explore options and extensions to meet defined objectives
At East Oakview Elementary, I am meeting four times this year with grade level groups. Here is the arrangement we established:
- Introduced student tech use expectations to establish goals
- Prior to each meeting, grade level groups shared instructional focus and tech interests
- I prepare training and support around their input
- Teachers collaborate to apply training to their curriculum and set personal goals
- We follow up on progress and move forward based on where the group is
This is all documented in a common place where all teachers can contribute thoughts and responses as well as reference support materials.
How this Could Work in Your District or School
This approach could be replicated in any building or district. Wherever people are meeting to plan, discuss, and prepare, brief and periodic meetings with ISD technology consultants can enhance the process in meaningful ways. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to set up a meeting.