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.

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