Teacher Led Professional Development, Real Growth
Last month, I wrote about “Daytime Staff Meetings,” a new idea that allowed our teachers to come together to grow together. Today, in our second installment, we fused this idea with another one I wrote about recently, teacher led professional development.
A group of staff members, different from those who planned our day in January, came together to talk about how to give teachers experience with technology tools that are currently being used in classrooms around our school. The idea is part of a strategy to introduce tools, then allow staff to have time to practice, then to offer support for questions as different applications are tried in classrooms.
The planning for these events began several weeks ago. I put the word out to see who would be interested in being on our committee and met with them after school to get the ball rolling. Our committee designed and administered a survey to see what technology teachers would be interested in learning about. They met again to analyze the data, and then began planning for today.
Last week, staff was e-mailed a short video (below) that was created by a member of our committee, showing the four technologies that would be introduced today. I sent a reminder e-mail yesterday, and our meetings happened throughout the school day in small groups.
Today, staff broke out into different conference rooms to explore whichever tool they were interested in, and had the chance to practice. In addition to seeing the teachers engaged in professional learning, I was inspired by the conversations about possible uses, as well as the laughter I heard.
Next week on Tuesday, our committee is hosting an optional meeting immediately after school in our computer lab where teachers can go and ask questions about what they experimented with today, tomorrow, or over the weekend. Or, they can also go to learn about another one of the four tools that was shared today. From here on, this group will organize these “optional Tuesday meetings” using the same format, sending out a short video, providing a few tips, and then letting staff members explore and ask questions.
There are almost too many benefits to name from this kind of work. Among the highlights:
- In an intentional way, it introduces staff to instructional technology that they can use in their classrooms.
- There was collaboration about lessons.
- There was professional learning.
- It was teacher led.
- Days like today encourage classroom innovation.
- It was inexpensive (the total cost for today, made up by release time for teachers who led the sessions was $220).
- The overall plan is ongoing (a characteristic of strong PD), and the “teachers” from today are the “colleagues” of tomorrow that staff can ask as they try new tools.
- It saw staff members talking with colleagues they don’t often see, about instruction.
- It was fun!
I could not have be happier with the day we had. I wrote an e-mail to sincerely thank the staff members and let them know how proud I was to work with them. I also wrote “Oakview is a great school, because of our students, as well as our teachers. Maintaining that excellence must happen FROM our classrooms, not from the main office. I have a long term vision for Oakview that includes teachers taking ownership and leadership roles within our school. Your work today, and as a part of our Technology Committee is vital to building the culture of sustainability for our school.” Efforts like this keep our organization moving forward and growing together.