Why do we professionally develop a staff?
Because I want our teachers to effectively use technology to support student learning. I want our teachers to have skills, practice, and confidence in their use of technology in the classroom. I want our teachers to not only know how to use the actual tools, but to understand how technology can improve learning.
The best professional development I ever had was from a peer. I invited her into my classroom to watch my teaching, and 40 minutes later she had 4 pages of notes. It was a powerful experience. As I moved from a classroom teacher (grades 3 to 8 computer classes) to an instructional designer, I had great value from interactions with my peers.
These experiences have informed my thinking about professional development. I buy into the idea of personal learning communities, and learning from our peers. I think our school should create time for teachers to meet together to discuss "what works best". At the start of faculty meetings, one of our teachers spend 5 minutes describing a tech integration project they are working on.
So as a technology director, I am thinking about professional development and what is the best type of professional development for my staff. I believe that very specific professional development is better than general professional development. For example, I would prefer our 4th grade teachers to attend training specific to the task of technology teaching the 4th grade instead of a general non-specific training.
David Warlick is a guy I pay attention to. I don't quite agree with everything he says, but attending his session cultivating a personal learning network really helped to reinforce my thinking about good professional development. He spoke mostly about how hyperconnectedness makes learning easier (you cant help but learn when you are connected to people - I like that) - I add this to my list of "things that are actually different with technology". Teachers can connect and learn from a community of people in ways previously unimaginable. The Personal Learning Network isn't about people who are close to you geographically, but of a common mind (or common question).
The point? A personal learning network makes a lot of sense to me. Any time spent working on the facilitation of a personal learning network is time well spent.
Published on Saturday, March 26, 2011 (about 6 years, 2 days, and 16 hours ago). Posted in: Educational Tech Design Support