Sad to say, but this will be the final Edtech RVA recap that I post for this series. Previously I’ve written about Getting Interactive with Google Apps, Bite-Sized Professional Development, and Plotting, Programming, & Printing in the ELA Classroom. The day was certainly a fun one though, and I did learn quite a lot from folks. This is definitely something I want to keep attending in the future, and I do encourage others to give it a try as well, especially if you’re in the Richmond area!
The final session that I attended was Dynamic Coaching Models: Helping Teachers Navigate Uncharted Technology Waters. This session was presented by Rebecca Fox and Althea Hudson. Both ladies can be found on Twitter- @foxteaches and @altheadespina. Be sure to give them a follow and check out their work!
The ideas in this session really support the work presented in the Bite-Sized Professional Development session, so if you weren’t sure about Bite-Sized PD before, attending this session would help to persuade you to change the ways of professional development in your own district.
Does this sound familiar? You attend PD as required by your district. Nothing is differentiated so folks who are new to the topic and folks who are very familiar with the topic are all thrown together. You had no say in the topic that was presented, and you were often given an overload of information. By the time you made it back to your school, all of your notes couldn’t help you remember everything you learned on the topic, and there was never any kind of follow-up to make sure that you were implementing correctly.
One of the few benefits to this kind of professional development is that everyone is up to date on the tool or topic, and the same information is pushed out to everyone at the same time. Great!
However, the cons outweigh the benefits. Because everyone got the same information, there wasn’t any differentiation. Sounds great to the folks on top, but if one looks more closely, those who already knew a lot about the topic were bored, and not paying close attention.They were just warm bodies filling seats. Those who were able to keep up found things okay, and remembered most of what they learned. Then there was the group that couldn’t keep up, got frustrated, and basically tossed aside everything once the training was over, never to be used again.
This is not the kind of professional development that is ever going to be successful or worth the money spent, if any was spent. Fox and Hudson presented the case for discarding this type of professional development. It was time for a change, they argued. Change would allow teachers to develop a growth mindset, take risks and try new things, build teacher confidence, and meet teachers’ needs.
One book that was pushed as a “must read” was Elena Aguilar’s Art of Coaching. This book doesn’t pertain only to edtech, but to any teacher, instructor, or coach who finds themselves working with teachers. I have this book, but have not had time to read it. This is certainly not the first time it’s been recommended to me, either. This book is meant to help coaches grow, self-reflect on their current work, and to help them embrace change.
After reading the book, coaches can then work on changing how they design professional development and trainings for their teachers. Once coaches begin to move in this direction though, they still have a lot of work ahead of them. They need to get administration to buy in to this different method. They’ll also need to seek teacher buy in, as well as teacher feedback on the topics they feel need covered to best support their teaching. Administration will also need to hold their staff accountable. Coaches will need to make sure they know what’s going on in the building with their staff, and adjust accordingly.
From this point forward, it’s up to all parties- teachers, administration, and coaches to keep each other posted and communicate needs and wants and any issues that may arise. By using different methods, districts can work to make professional development worthwhile and meaningful to their staff.
That’s it for EdtechRVA folks. The next recap round will come after March 25. I’m excited to attend my very first edcamp in Yorktown, VA. I hope to learn a lot of new ideas and make new connections with folks. If you liked this round of recaps, stay tuned for future ones!