Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Brew Your Own Personalized PD



Every student has different needs. They come in with different abilities, interests, backgrounds, and learning styles. Every teacher understands this, right? So if that is the case, are teachers any different? 

Now that I have finished my year of coaching elementary teachers how to utilize/integrate technology, I think pretty deeply about how I provide professional development opportunities. Teachers have various ability levels, interests, and learning styles. I understand this and feel it is time I explain my "method to the madness" so that teachers better understand what I'm attempting to accomplish and how it is of use to them. 
  1. Traditional - Looking at the "infographic" above, I still provide opportunities from time to time in this manner. Doing a whole group session on a topic and discussing it as a group is how most material was delivered even when I was a student. Generally, it is really difficult to meet needs in this setting because a vast array of needs will be present. Should I still provide before and after school professional development opportunities? Yes, because some people prefer this setting. 
  2. Flipped - My blog is essentially a "flipped learning" opportunity as I provide materials/ideas that you are able to view on your own. When something sparks a teacher's interest, they have the ability to contact me directly and ask more questions or even change the pace at which the material was presented. We can meet before, during, and after school. What I would like to see develop is more dialogue on my blog. If you have input or ideas of how something can be used, please chime in with comments. I welcome them. I tend to be a flipped learner as I would rather just have the content sent to me and I'll explore it on my own. To add to the flipped learning model, I've also started to build online learning modules where teachers can work through the materials, provide evidence of their learning, and earn professional growth points toward re-licensing. 
  3. 1:1 - Most people feel most comfortable in this setting as I can sit down and show/discuss something in greater detail. I meet with teachers frequently in this manner. However, it is difficult to meet everyone's needs this way as well. To make this time more efficient, participating in flipped PD opportunities will speed up the process as it will require less time as many of your questions will already be answered. Then I can "fine tune" your needs on a personal level so that ultimately, we aren't waiting for a scheduled time to meet. 
  4. Twitter/Pinterest - Not all my teachers are utilizing Twitter at this point, but please follow me if you are. You can find me @Mr_Yoder. The value of Twitter and Pinterest is astounding as you can read a 140 character blurb or a quick photo on Pinterest and ideas start to formulate. I also participate in Twitter chats from time to time in order to communicate with educators outside of East Noble so that I can pull more ideas in and extend them to you. For more information about Twitter, click here. 
  5. Google Hangouts - This is what I also have called "Pd in PJ's". In this scenario, I can combine several delivery methods: small group session along with flipped learning. My future plans are to record those sessions to create those "flipped learning" opportunities. That way if  teacher cannot participate they can view it later. I can even record sessions where I discuss digital tools with staff members that are outside of my designated buildings. I met with Julie Becker to discuss Showbie as she was working at South Side. To further the power of this method, I was at a conference put on by #INeLearn, and had a discussion about Showbie. Stephanie Steiner, a fellow educator I had never met face-to-face before, mentioned that she had came across a Google Hangout that someone posted showing another teacher how to use Showbie. As it turns out, it was my blog post
  6. Google Hangouts...Again - Another nice feature of Google Hangouts is my ability to meet with you when I'm in another building. I understand schedules are tight and you need to get things done. I actually met with Rome City's P.E. teacher, Kim Krebs, on Google Hangouts because she had questions about Microsoft Excel. We were able to work through her questions, I was able to see her screen, and I even have the ability to take over her computer if need be. After speaking with Kim in person, she said she enjoyed it because we were working together simultaneously. She felt more confident in her understanding of the task she was attempting to accomplish. In order to do this, you can visit http://plus.google.com, and if you've added me to your "circles," you can click on my name, type a message to me and I can call you back. I even hope to do this with students someday so that I'm not so tied to a specific day in a specific building. If you haven't activated Google+ or Hangouts, you can find more information here. 
  7. Teaching in Classrooms/Mentoring: Sometimes teachers would rather I get the ball rolling for them. Maybe they don't feel super comfortable presenting a digital tool, or they just want to hear how I would go through the steps with the students. No matter what reason behind it I love the opportunity to jump into a class. Some classes I meet with on a regular basis. However, I'm typically careful with this one. Reason being is because if I demonstrate something to a class it should be used within that next week and with some regularity. If students do not have regular experience using a tool or website, it will fail when you need it most due to lack of experience/confidence in the use of the technology. So if I teach it, please plan on using it...a lot...on your own. If I come in once a week and that is the only exposure they have had with the tool, it will not work. Also, if I come in on a regular basis, I might sometimes teach and I might sometimes lend a helping hand as you take the reigns. 
  8. Edcamp Style: I've participated in the "Unconference" put on by #INeLearn and really enjoyed the format. Basically you come with something you might be able to share. You share, we discuss, we brainstorm, we all learn. I led one discussion on Google Hangouts (imagine that) and felt a little overwhelmed at first because I didn't have anything prepared. Here is what I found: all participants, regardless of experience/ability, had something to contribute. Whether it was sharing their own experiences, giving tips, or asking questions, every teacher had a piece of wisdom to contribute. I would like to begin holding more opportunities in this fashion so that we can learn about what is happening throughout the school district. 
  9. I recently have launched "A Peek in the Classroom." Being a technology coach, I have the privilege of seeing a variety of talents. In a sense, every single day is a professional development opportunity for me. My goal is to start videoing teachers using digital tools so that you can have a similar experience. I believe this will give you a glimpse of how digital tools can be implemented. It is difficult to to take time out of your school day to observe other teachers in action. My hope is that you will take these videos, gather some ideas, and jump right in with the same strategies and improved methods so that you experience success when integrating technology. 
  10. The final method is by just gathering resources. Teachers may have a project that they have in mind and they need tools. They need resources that will be realistic for their students' needs. The more contact I have with your class, the easier this is for me to accomplish because I know your students. So if you need something and I stop by your classroom for a visit, don't be alarmed. More than likely, I'm checking to see where your students stand academically and digitally. To give you an example: I can build a Padlet with a whole list of digital resources for students to use.