Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Challenge of Sustainable Staff Development

Lately, I've been in discussions with schools throughout the district on how to best support the technology training we've already had this year, rather than adding new workshops. And I've been out to schools to do follow-up sessions on blogs, smart and activboards and schoolcenter teacherpages workshops done earlier this year. The format has been group meetings that are focused more on reviewing and asking questions rather than delivering new information.

There are several schools I serve that understand that many teachers need more than a one hour "sit and get" if they are going to really use the technology in their instruction. Many teachers have follow-up questions and need time to reflect and brainstorm when they acquire a new tool, and I commend those willing to do this because the "carrot" of tech credit is gone for these sessions. These are teachers who are showing up because they want to better understand how to use the technology.

Yesterday at Jefferson Elementary three teachers came in after school to the lab for a help session on their teacher webpages. We answered group questions and reviewed some steps, but much of the time was spent working on their pages with Joan (their tech facilitator) and I assisting them. We started around 2:45 and finished around 4:10, and at the end of the day I thought each of them made real strides with their pages.

Too often I think staff development workshops (technology or otherwise) plant a seed but don't do enough to nurture its growth early on. Follow-up is key if we want teachers to use the skills and resources we are sharing.


Marlo Gaddis said...


Thanks for posting this. Just think what might happen if all schools believed not only in training for teachers but in allowing them the time to hone their craft!

Mrs. Edwards said...
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Mrs. Edwards said...

I agree with your comment about too many staff developments (technology or otherwise)present a new idea and then nothing happens. Often those new ideas that seem so appealing at first end up thrown by the side since many teachers see things as taking too much time and just another thing to try to fit in. Various technology tools (and other staff development things) may take a while to learn at first, but I think the benefits in the long run are worth it. Technology can actually make things easier! :) I see the technology things we are being shown as not another thing to do but another way to do some of the things we are already doing.

Developing a new skill (technology or otherwise) involves not being afraid to try things and possibly fail. People in our society don't like to fail, so they might not be willing to take the risk to be creative. Failure can be an excellent teacher.