Next week my school will be having a full day of professional development centered on technology integration. We will have 4 periods of sessions before lunch and 1 after before people are given a couple hours to collaborate and use what they have learned. Our main goal is that teachers walk away from this PD with something changed in their classrooms and ready to try out.
This will be my first full day PD that I have been an active part of the planning process. In my role, as technology integration specialist, I get to help teachers in a smaller setting on a day to day basis. I occasionally get to hold some meetings with our core subject departments but those only cover a small topic and provide a springboard to more interactions in the future. This will be a day where all of our high school and middle school teachers come together and hopefully come away learning something that will positively impact their classroom.
I feel that we are doing a good job of modeling effective uses of technology for this PD day. We have a Google Site setup as a landing spot that contains the links to the schedule, which is hosted on http://sched.org/ and is available on all devices including smarthphones, as well as a session ready on https://todaysmeet.com/ so that there can be a set backchannel for the day. We will hopefully be able to use the comments and the chat to either change for next time or to set up resources that are needed by teachers. We also have decided to use the #acsd hashtag for the day and are hoping that the Albion College Swimming and Diving groups aren’t tweeting as much as they are the only ones who seem to be using that hashtag currently. I have also highly recommended to people to not use paper handouts as there is no need since we have the technology available to use more than a piece of paper to help others. I never understand it when I go to education technology conferences and see so many handouts or other pieces of paper being used when we have these great digital tools available that create better opportunities for learning.
As we have been working on this day, I have thought about all of those PD days that I have attended and how effective they were. The most effective ones for me always allowed for choices and time to practice or create. That was something we definitely wanted for our full day so that people had options to learn what they wanted and then to actually do something with that learning. The worst PD I have attended consisted of a forced topic that took the whole day with no time to collaborate or create. I will never be a part of that if I can help it, I do not feel it is effective and that it only detracts from the learning experience.
One thing that I am still thinking about is the chance that an unconference part of the day being effective for our district. I wrote a blog post earlier this year about my reflections from EdCamp DSM and how I did not think it would be totally effective if not all teachers feel that desire to learn and grow. There is always a concern that having a time like that will just allow some to either sit around without being productive or just give them a time to complain and not add anything but only take away. I know that the Prairie District is trying it and I am hoping it is a success as I would love having EdCamp style PD someday in Ames. Hopefully someday soon.