I have been researching technology professional development and the exercise has been a long one (which is the reason for the extended silence on my blog). I have found myself falling down rabbit holes on personalization, blended learning, interdisciplinary groups, coaching/mentoring, and sustaining that professional learning over time. These topics have all been of interest to me and I have been working to continue to dig deeper into these elements of professional learning for teachers. I am finding that to truly change teacher understanding of the various technology integration techniques and pedagogical approaches, teachers need one thing TIME!
This is a piece that is often missing when discussion is had about professional learning. Districts often have to sacrifice time that is set aside for these activities for other things such as inclement weather make-up days, operational meetings, and other need to do now type activities or meetings. I am in no way saying that these things are not important or that they should be shirked to allow for professional learning time. What I am saying is that professional learning time should be a protected commodity and it should be presented in a way that is exciting and seen as valuable to the teacher.
My first 6 months as a technology coach was a jarring experience. I say this because while I knew there were tools and resources out in the world for educators to use, I never understood what was really possible until I had time to attend conferences, meet and discuss with those who had been in this edtech world longer than me, and really think and reflect on these experiences. Had I been able to sit in a professional learning session that was blocked out solely for the purpose of giving me the information I needed around a specific idea, like personalized or blended learning, and then more time later, after I had a moment or two or three to sit with these ideas on my own, to discuss with others and exchange ideas my classroom would have been a very different place.
The question I continue to grapple with now is, how can teachers get the exposure to the topics and skills they need while also providing them the time and support they have to have to truly implement their learning into their classes. This year, I created and put in place a framework that focused on technology professional development and sustained coaching that was designed around the Digital Learning Competencies. The research I have found has influenced the practices I have used in this framework. I am still learning, thinking, and adjusting as I use this method for working with teachers. I hope to write more on this as I continue to implement this and my district begins the process of expanding this throughout other schools. But until then, BACK TO THE RESEARCH!!!