A new breed of staff development

November 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’m going to try to be the example here for the staff in our district.

We are trying to implement a new model of technology staff development here in La Vernia ISD in that, we want our staff to go out and find something that interests them to learn about. Stepping out of that box, breaking the mold of what staff development entails is going to be a challenge.

I honestly don’t think our staff believed us when we told them they could learn on their own. School staff are used to being sat down for a couple of days every year and having the fire hose turned on them. We are trying to turn off the fire hose, and do more of a garden sprinkler approach. We’ll give you little bits and pieces that can help, but it’s entirely up to you what to learn and when to learn it.

We have a group of staff members (not just teachers) who have to get 16 hours of technology staff development, and we figured that we’d much rather have them find something to learn that they’re interested in, rather than the technology staff deciding what was important.

I did my Master’s research on this exact thing. I knew from sitting through staff development myself, that I really only used about half of what I was ever taught, and that’s a conservative estimate. The other problem with blasting folks with a bunch of stuff during a few key days in August and January is that by the time they get around to using what you’ve taught them, they’ve likely forgotten most of it, and need additional help.

We wanted to change that. By letting staff members find something that was of interest to them, we figured we would gain their buy-in from the start, and they would likely find something to learn that they could use immediately in their practice.

In theory, it sounds great. In reality (so far anyway) not so much.

Now, it’s only been two weeks since we introduced this whole concept to them, but I haven’t seen everyone jumping in with both feet. OK, I’m being too nice about that. I’ve only seen 2 people actually do anything. In other words, it looks like we have very reluctant students.

Maybe we threw too much at them all at once. We talked about Twitter, Google+, and Blogging along with telling them that they’d be responsible for their own learning. Maybe it was just completely overwhelming and they don’t know where to start.

That is why I’m starting here. I want to model for our staff how to reflect on their learning, just like I’m doing. Sometimes, writing down what you’ve done can help you work through the problems at hand. Sometimes tweeting about it can get valuable responses.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t want to make things too scripted. I want these folks to learn how to learn. I’m sure most of them already do know how to learn, but I really want them to understand that it’s OK to let students learn organically, just as we’re going to let them learn. Do you have to do some step-by-step stuff? Sure, just not too much. I can do the “here’s how you get started on twitter, ” but I really want them to figure out the best way for them to be on twitter for them.

So I think maybe what we should do this week at our training (if anyone shows up) is to just go over one of those things we talked about at our last training a little more in depth. Give them some hands-on.


Jeez…you’d think I was brand new to this whole staff development game.


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