Archive for March 2009

We’ve Got Openings!

March 26, 2009

We have come to the point in the year when we start scouring for new talent, and with the addition of new specialty areas and 150 students next year, we need some more great teachers.

A few of our current folks will be leaving us and we will need to add core teachers to support our growing campus; we will also need a Web Mastering teacher. I can’t give you a lot of  specifics yet, but if you are interested in working at an outstanding high school with an active one-to-one laptop program, please consider submitting your application.

We are always looking for innovative teachers who work well with students and would like to break out of the traditional educational mold.

You can find out more about The Academy by visiting our website – make sure to check out our specializations – and by watching this video produced by our Media Tech students.

Interested parties should fill out an online application with Irving ISD and e-mail a resume to Eric Creeger, 1st floor Vice Principal.  We hope to hear from you!

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PLN Presentation – Reflection

March 11, 2009

I wrote last week about some thoughts I have about trying to get staff development credit for teachers who develop and are active in a personal learning network because as Will Richardson wrote about in this post, we try to individualize and personalize learning for our students… why would we not do the same for our teachers.

So, the Teaching and Learning Tuesday I offered after school yesterday focused on the importance of developing a PLN. I shared some info and demonstrated my PLN and then we brainstormed some ideas for staff development documentation and such. There were fourteen of us present and I think we had a decent discussion. Of course, after the presentation there were some things I wish I would have said, but that is always the case. 🙂

This is the presentation I used to help start the discussion.

http://docs.google.com/Presentation?id=dcbjp5x_4hvczrwdm

After talking with the teachers, my next step will be to develop a form of sorts where teachers will “document” what they are doing in their PLN. Once I have it developed, I am going to send it out to the teachers who attended the session so they can offer me some feedback and see if my creation is what they envisioned.

So, hopefully soon, we will be able to incorporate PLN into my school’s options for “official” staff development training. It really makes sense for our campus because we have such varied subjects that we teach and there are not a lot of learning resources in our district for a lot of our specialty teachers… it would be great for them to get “credit” for interacting and learning from professionals in their industry.

I will keep you all updated on our progress.

The Importance of Developing a Personal Learning Network

March 4, 2009

I am forever trying to improve upon the staff development opportunities offered on my campus because I would like them to be authentic and actually challenge and provoke thoughts and new ideas amongst my staff.

I always get reflective about our staff development practices during this time of year because, although I think my campus offers much more relevant and engaging PD than most campuses, our attendance begins to peter out once teachers have earned their “required staff development credit.” This irks me be because I need teachers to want to continually learn and grow – to learn for the sake of learning, trying new things and challenging themselves.

So, on my drive in to work the other day, I was thinking of how I learn best and where my content comes from… and surprise… it isn’t in staff development sessions. The majority of new ideas and new resources is introduced to me through my Personal Learning Network, so I began to formulate an idea of how to restructure our staff development to offer the same learning opportunity to my staff.

I would like them to understand what a PLN is, the importance of it, and how to develop one… and then… I would like to be able to “grant” them SD credit for participating and learning from their PLN.

So, I have a plan of how to do this in my mind, but I need some feedback from you all to help me get it organized.

So here are my thoughts…

  • The Teaching and Learning Tuesday that will be offered on Tuesday of next week will be a time for me to introduce the idea of PLN’s, demo the tools I use to develop and follow my PLN, have a few others share their PLN’s, and then brainstorm how to introduce the Personal Learning Network SD plan to the campus.
  • BTW – I am planning on sharing Google Reader, Twitter and Delicious as my main PLN tools (among with informal meetings with people on my campus).
  • Theses are my initial thoughts on the plan – teachers will “write” an individualized plan including what their PLN will entail, what they hope to learn and how they will incorporate these new ideas into their classroom.
  • The problem arises with granting the “credits.” The district requires each teacher to earn a certain amount of SD credits each school year and the hours have to be documented. My thought is that the plan teachers create will culminate in a presentation or “interview” with myself and/or the staff development VP where they can discuss what they learned and how they used this information to improve their teaching.
  • Teachers will be able to choose the topic they would like to learn more about (within the confines of district/campus goals).

So with that all said… here are the problems I forsee and need your help working out…

  • I don’t want the PLN staff development plan to result in “credit grubbing” and me or someone else having to decide that this person did something amazing so they earn 6 hours of credit while this person didn’t do much so they only earn 3 hours.
  • Essentially, I would like the PLN staff development plan to motivate teachers to learn more about their topic and the credits just be a bonus on the side.
  • And, how do I document all this stuff?

I would really love your thoughts, and if you are a member of my staff (and even if you are not, you are welcome to join us), I encourage you to attend Tuesday and help us brainstorm.

I have had some help in developing my thoughts on PLN’s and most of the ideas have come from some of the people I “follow.” Here are a couple of the posts that have helped spur my latest staff development undertaking:

All of these thoughts are a work in progress, so please leave me some feedback (constructive criticism encourage as well).