Professional Development

Recently read this article, which talks about professional development in today's schools. It is amazing as to how much PD has changed just in the five years I have been teaching (has it been that long already?). These two paragraphs really jumped out at me:

The biggest shift has been away from regularly scheduled professional development sessions to a just-in-time approach to professional development. With this new approach, teachers regularly communicate with an on-site instructional technology specialist, enabling them to quickly and efficiently address any questions or issues. This is the most effective method to ensure that teachers are constantly engaging and integrating technology. The instructional technology specialist's ongoing assistance and support encourages teachers to try new teaching methods and reinforces material taught during more formal professional development sessions.

This shift to accessible professional development can't be emphasized enough. It's no longer sufficient for teachers to attend a workshop, learn a slew of computer applications, and then be expected to use those applications when they return to their classrooms. Educators like Gates are continually making the point that professional development needs to be always accessible and always relevant: The technology is a way to make the instruction more engaging; it's not an end in and of itself. Rother points out: "As teachers become more tech-savvy, professional development focuses on the seamless integration of technology into the daily curriculum, rather than on merely how to use technology."

As CFF coach in my district, I am the one who supplies this just-in-time training to our staff and students in our secondary building. I have so many plans to expand what we do. I am working on a CFF wikipage for our teachers and students to access. I currently have a page that I designed with Nvu, but I like the features and availability of wikispaces more, so I'm working on making that switch.

I am also working on including as many teachers as possible, and each week I see more teachers getting involved. This week, one of our FCS teachers showed me her wiki. One unfortunate thing about her schedule and mine is that we don't have a common time to meet, so I wasn't able to help her out as much as I could. However, since I have a group of students who post to my class wiki as part of their summarization of lessons. This group of students was able to help the FCS teacher with creating her wiki. I was so proud of both the teacher and my students. Then the teacher mentioned to me about how she had learned many of the features of wikispaces by trying things out.

That's also one thing that I have been stressing to our teachers (and students): try something. I can't recall the number of times I have had a teacher approach me saying, "I don't want to break my computer!" I have to tell them that they won't! I have told them that there is an "undo" on their computers for a reason. Still, many are reluctant to take the risks, and that's one of my greatest difficulties. How can I get teachers to take the risks to expand if I may not be available to help them out when a problem arises?

Hopefully, as different issues arise, I will be able to make videos to post as how to's for fixes for when I'm not available. The Central PA CFF Coaches have created a How To wiki to start this out, and as time goes on, we should see more how to's on there. Bear with us, as each of us only has so much time each day. If you have any good ones, please add them!

Tomorrow I will be presenting at a math collaboration day in a neighboring area, and I've had a lot put on my plate. I like the challenge. But I think I'm falling victim to a the feeling that I'm-not-better-than-these-other-teachers and I'm-still-a-young-teacher-itis, and I often feel that I still have so much to learn, and I do. This could be a bad feeling, or it could be the feeling that keeps me growing as an educator. I have to realize that there are things I can share, as there are things I can do and know that others don't. I also have to realize that there is always room for growth, and I need to continue striving to take the next step as an educator.

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