How (or Should) We Find Time for In-School PD?
What I Know (or Think I Know) About Tech PD:
We are so lucky at my school! We have access to a wide variety of apps on our K-3 iPads and teachers who are keen to use them in their classrooms. In fact we went 1:1 because teachers wanted better access to technology.
For almost as long as I can remember, in our first week back at school, we held a Tech PD Day run by teachers for teachers that has always been a big success. Teachers enjoyed:
- learning from one another
- being offered choice about what to learn
- sessions that met them “where they were at” by catering to their current level of understanding
As ICT Integrator, I only work with students for an hour once every 8 days. My knowledge of the apps and their possible application in the classroom doesn’t really matter when compared to other teachers who have much more contact-time with students. Another part of my job description involves working with teachers but, like at all schools, time is always an issue. Some constraints we have at the start of the school year are:
- whole-school planning meetings
- meetings to talk about students who are coming into our classes
- need to find time to plan those first days and set up our classrooms.
This year, despite the the success of the day in the past, the time normally designated for Tech PD is being used for something else. I don’t doubt the value of the new initiative but I worry about losing this time to focus on developing and showcasing teacher tech skills.
Once school gets started, teachers are incredibly busy – when they aren’t teaching their own class, they might be:
- planning for another day
- prepping for an upcoming class
- supervising a recess or lunch
- leading an extra-curricular activity
- responding to or contacting parents
- meeting with colleagues
- or maybe even eating their own lunch, grabbing a cup of tea or carving out two minutes to arrange an appointment or just stop and breathe for a moment
I’d like to find a way (or ways) to help teachers that offers the same benefits as our Tech Day did but I also know that there is much value in allowing teachers to determine their own PD rather than having it dictated by the school.
Some Ideas That Might Make a Difference:
As I write, I am wondering if getting to know apps is the real issue or if we should really just spend more time discussing the ICT Policies and Practices we devised and agreed upon last year to build stronger connections between technology, pedagogy and content knowledge.
I have already created a Pinterest page that lists what we have on the iPads and this will be shared with teachers via a school reference website that we are creating.
I could add PD experiences that are available outside the school to the same site.
I could consider the feasibility of hosting a Tech Day later in the school year.
I could schedule a regular meeting with each teacher to address their individual needs.
In order to meet adult learning styles and to fit into busy teaching schedules, I wonder if I could have a few minutes at our faculty meetings to review a portion of our agreements and showcase different apps together with their possible classroom applications. This could help to build knowledge of TPACK and/ or SAMR as well as allow teachers to become more comfortable with the iPad apps. Actually, teachers could share what they have done in their classroom or I could celebrate something I know is happening in a class.
What I Am Wondering:
Other schools must have tried multiple ways to develop, share and celebrate teacher tech skills. Learning is social – do you have any thoughts, resources or experiences that worked well that you could share?