Posted tagged ‘Staff Development’

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).

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First Day Back with the Whole Staff

August 20, 2008

Today was the first day back with the entire staff.  We covered some basic procedures and then commenced into some staff development. Feel free to view the wiki to see what we have been up to.  We didn’t get quite as much actually staff development time this year from the district so our time for “choices” was a little limited, but I think we did okay with the planning… as always our goal is to allow teachers some activities and sessions to choose from and limit “seat time” to the bare minimum.  Because really, what is the point of staff development if your staff just feels forced in to sitting and listening to you talk while they think of all of the other stuff they need to be doing?

I spent the majority of my day creating Blackboard courses, getting teachers set up in Gradespeed, entering upcoming courses in our staff development system and assisting in sessions as needed. Tomorrow looks to be as hectic. At some point I would like to get in my office and get some stuff organized, but that may have to wait until Friday (or unfortunately Saturday).

Hopefully once things get settled I can start writing some more in-depth pieces again.  Hopefully the start of your school year is going well too!

Keeping Busy!!!

August 18, 2008

School starts in one week! I have been busy with freshmen orientation, laptop distribution, planning staff development and organizing and helping to lead our yearly Newer Teacher Staff Development. We seem to have really good group of new teachers (who are slightly overwhelmed with all of the information we are throwing at them). 🙂  I can sympathize; I remember how lost I felt my first year and I had no where near the resources and information to digest as our new teachers.

Tomorrow is our last day of Newer Teacher Training and then we jump right in with whole campus training for two days, then a work day, the weekend and the first day of school!

You can check out what the new teachers have been doing this week by viewing our wiki.  I am still working on the staff development for the whole staff but hope to have it finished tomorrow (keep your fingers crossed); I will eventually share that information with you all as well.

It is time again when educators (and probably students) feel a little overwhelmed and very busy until they can settle in to some sort of routine. I personally can’t wait for the routine to set in!

I Need Some Professional Development Help!

June 26, 2008

In a couple of weeks I (and a group of others) will have to begin planning the new teacher staff development and whole campus staff development for my campus for the 2008-2009 school year.

I am sure we have all been to those “professional development” sessions where we sat for eight hours and just basically tried not to fall asleep or strangle the boring presenter while they lectured to us about lecturing not being the most effective way to teach… BEATING.  I do not want to inflict that sort of “training” on my staff.

My goal is that the professional development we provide is actually USEFUL and that the majority of my staff members go away feeling like they have learned something or produced something they can use for the upcoming school year.  With that in mind, we usually offer choices and try to get as much teacher input into the planning process as we can.

The difficulties I see for planning professional development on my campus are

  • We have a few teachers with massive amounts of technology experience and It is difficult to come up with anything “new” to assist them with (technically)
  • We have a few teachers who still need basic technology training with the majority being somewhere in the middle
  • We have a few teachers who think they need advanced technology training when they really need basic 🙂
  • We have teachers who are OUTSTANDING in building relationships with the kids and teachers who are not
  • We have a few teachers who think they know everything about technology and/or their subject area who haven’t really updated their skills since 1985… and see no need to
  • We have elective teachers who feel left out because there are few if any sessions geared toward their subjects
  • We have teachers who have taught for 30 years and teachers who have yet to step foot in the classroom
  • Our teachers expect choice in staff development and expect some sort of relevancy from it (so, the standard is high)

I guess my point in listing all of this is that we have a varied staff (as I am sure your school has).  And, when planning for a group who have such disparate needs, it is difficult to give everyone what they need which has been our basis for offering choice and attempting to differentiate for the group (as we would do in a classroom).  Overall, I think it works but I am ready to try something new and different… I just don’t know what it is yet.

I would love some thoughts from you on how to best organize professional development opportunities for a group of 80 or so educators with various technological and teaching backgrounds.

Before the school year ended, I surveyed the staff on what they would like to see in their professional development options, and this is what they said.

Last year we decided to plan and present our professional development for new and returning teachers via Wikispaces, and this is what we come up with for the newbies and the whole campus.

So again, I would love your thoughts on how to organize and implement some professional development opportunities that is not going to waste my staff’s time.  I can’t wait to hear from you!