Professional development – What works for school-based training?

Given my current position at school, the professional development of staff in technology and technology integration is a high priority for me.  However, what is the best way to motivate staff and engage staff in fruitful professional development?  Teachers are time poor and essentially blinded by the tunnel vision that is there day to day workload and tasks.  Yes there are times of relief from face-to-face (f2f) teaching to complete such tasks but there is still inevitably not sufficient time to engage in ongoing professional development (PD) for most.  I want to be able to motivate my colleagues and engage them in ongoing PD but what is going to work as a model for all, not a one-size-fits-all model but a flexible model that can cater for all?

I’ve been reading a book called Transforming Classroom Practice: Professional Development Strategies in Educational Technology and its prompting me to consider many different factors effecting the culture of PD at school.  When I worked for PLANE I saw increasing numbers of teachers state-wide and then nationally, get on board with online learning for their own PD but not all teachers seem keen to use their own time to engage in these kinds of PD activities.  Should it be that this is an option but that is more of a blended model?  I think I’m leaning towards a blended model of offering certain sessions f2f but then supporting that with online modules as well, in a flipped classroom style.  (Related blog post).

What I envisage doing then is making videos and setting a very short reading perhaps to introduce a new concept or skill to the staff, then we can focus the workshop session purely on just doing practical design and development of learning activities, applying what is learned.  Will this work?  I’m not entirely sure but it’s worth a try.  From reading the above mentioned book I have learned so much about how PD should run and one of the very first points I wrote down was this:

“Students whose teachers are technology trained outperform those with teachers who are not technology trained.”

This was a confronting point and a real reality check for the importance of PD in educational technology so what is the best way to approach it?  The book suggests that PD could be individually focused or socially/group focused but there are clear points to consider for either.

  • Listen to the teachers and what they want and need
  • Find out how the teachers define themselves as a teacher
  • Facilitate growth
  • What is their individual and collective experience, interests and background?
  • Offer choices
  • Set goals both individually and collectively
  • Involve teachers in the design and planning of PD
  • Incorporate basic skills with higher order thinking skills
  • Allow self-discovery, less instruction and direction given
  • Allow mistakes
  • Interact with teachers and acknowledge their efforts

I have a lot more to read and research in considering the best design for PD at school when integrating educational technology but so far this book has been very valuable.

3 thoughts on “Professional development – What works for school-based training?

  1. Pingback: Professional development - What works for school-based training? | Teachers Teaching Teachers |

  2. You have an interesting challenge – professional development for teachers who have 213943214 other competing priorities – not the least of which is ensuring a quality lesson for the students who will be sitting in class tomorrow.

    I’ve been trying to address a similar challenge – getting busy people to embrace learning and continuous professional development. The somewhat magic bullet I’ve focussed on over the past year or so has been a formal professional development plan (I’ve found that I can create rockin’ learning experiences, but until people feel/see a specific and formal need for any of these topics, there will always be something else that’s more important that rises to the top of the priority list).

    Beyond the topics and really good design, do you have any other factors working in your favor? Specific professional development plans for the teachers that identify skills gaps? A requirement of x hours of professional development per year? Anything?

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