Tag Archives: professional development

One Thousand Miles

During the first two weeks of the new year, I put over 1000 miles on my car, driving around my state to visit five different school divisions.  Three were smaller rural divisions; two were larger suburban divisions. But, they all had several things in common.  All were grappling with challenges related to funding and student achievement.  All were concerned about what the new year and new administration would mean for schools.  And, all were aware that they were doing an impossible job in impossible circumstances.

Yet, all seemed to have a sense of hope and a level of optimism that I certainly didn’t feel as I thought about the impossibilities…if we just work a little harder, find some more resources, increase our own enthusiasm, we can engage the kids in the content and help them learn the state mandated content by the looming deadline.  But, while the test was certainly a driving force in their lives and the lives of their children, they also had personal goals for helping the kids learn to live, work and play successfully in the contemporary world.

They were trying to figure out how to balance all the demands they were juggling, always keeping the students’ needs firmly in mind. And, they were trying to figure out how to balance their own lives and work even while they are sponsoring clubs and staying late to tutor and sitting in the bleachers for the basketball game.  Mostly, they were working very hard.

I was reminded of a post by Chris Lehmann in which he mused about a system that requires martyrdom to function. Chris wrote,

I want to celebrate every teacher who has made this job a calling. Thank you. But my concern is that this nation thinks that building an entire system around martyrdom is the way to go — that if you aren’t spending 80 hours a week and thousands of your own dollars, you can’t be an effective Title I school teacher. (And yes, I know that it’s not THAT much better in the wealthier districts.) We cannot build a national system on the idea that KIPP and TFA and the 60-70 hour work week is acceptable. It’s not.

So as I watch Jakob and Theo play, stealing a moment where I can both be a dad (you have NO idea how many breaks I’ve taken in writing this entry) and a principal (I’ve answered about ten emails during the writing too,) I have a call to arms for us all.

Every time we see a teacher celebrated for their Herculean efforts, let’s all be sure to ask the following questions:

  • What can be done to support and sustain you?
  • How can we change the system that more people can be as successful as you?
  • How can we create schools where it does not require Herculean efforts to be a successful teacher?

These and other questions were part of my own thoughts as I drove all those miles.  I’m going to throw out one possible solution for supporting and sustaining.  It’s off the cuff and a band-aid at that, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Why doesn’t planning time count towards professional development?  Every teacher does it, every day.  That means that every day they spend a bit of time in reflection on what they did and what they are going to do.  For most of them, they are alone when they do this reflection, sitting at their desks, jogging around the block or driving to the grocery store.

Most of the teachers I talked to have to turn in some kind of written plan to the office but they do not receive any feedback on it.  No conversation at all, in fact, for something they do every day of the year.  Maybe instead of having them sit through more drive by training, we could have them work together to reflect on their plans, to link their professional learning and growth to their professional practice.  Because they ARE reflecting, thinking all the time about their plans, but they are doing it all on their own time and alone.  Put them together, give them a chance to share, and suddenly all the individual energy comes together.  Rather than having a faculty meeting to tell people things that could be shared via email, have a faculty meeting that starts with the question, “What worked in your classroom today?  What didn’t work?”  Simple questions with complex answers.

You don’t need a consultant or even a model; you just need time for talking.  Time for exploring. Time for learning.  Is that so much to ask?

A Respect for Your Audience

I enjoyed reading Scott McLeod’s series on issues related to outside consultants.  Scott does a great job pulling together lots of good ideas related to providing quality professional development.  He references both the National Speakers Association’s Code of Professional Ethics and the National Staff Development Council (NSDC) Code of Ethics as two excellent resources for guiding professional development planning.  (My colleague Chris O’Neal and I designed our presentation about professional development around the NSDC standards.) Scott also provides detailed tips for what organizers should look for in an outside consultant.   His post is a good start in terms of thinking about how we can be most useful to the people with whom we are working.  I would highly recommend all four posts.

Scott asked what we would add to his ideas.  As someone who does a variety of consulting from public speaking to developing courses to facilitating planning, here’s my bottom line: The key to being or hiring a successful consultant is to have the utmost respect for those with whom you are working.   That means respect for their time, certainly, but, more importantly, for their ideas and experiences.

I think Scott hinted at this in all four posts, but I want to mention it explicitly because I believe it needs to the starting point for any kind of professional development.  All those standards and suggestions seem obvious if you begin from a posture of respect.  You’re a learner along with the group. You’re there to address their needs and concerns. Certainly, you have knowledge and ideas to share but you couple that with a strong contextual understanding.

For me, the greatest indicator of respect relates to what Scott calls service:

We can charge whatever we think our time and expertise are worth (and the market will bear), but we should be providing something of value. Usually that means something practical that members of the organization can start using and acting upon tomorrow.

Offering something practical means that you have to take the time to learn about your participants because it is only by knowing about them that you can really make your work relevant to their lives and work.

Now You Can Send EVERYONE To A Conference…For Free!

The K-12 Online Conference is just around the corner.  Preconference activities will take place during the week of October 13.  Then, the following two weeks will be filled with presentations.  The theme this year is Amplifying Possibilities and the flyer is now available.  Teasers for upcoming sessions will be available soon.  You might consider planning some school events to correspond with the conference, which takes place entirely online.  Maybe even think about providing professional development points?

ITRT Mini Conference Keynote: Fred Scott

Here are my notes from Fred’s excellent keynote.  (Now, I’m sitting in his breakout session.)

ITRT Mini Conference
Keynote Speaker: Fred Scott, Manager, Instructional Technology, Chesterfield County Public Schools

Hardware? Software?  No…Let’s Connect With HUMANware

Humanware refers to people.  We have been investing in hardware, software and webware, but what about the people?  We need to invest in the people in order to improve instruction with technology.  We need to connect humanware to school goals, student goals, etc?  When our kids leave the school system there is a whole world out there.  They may not stay in their community…we have no idea where they will be and what they will be doing.  Fred’s framework asks how we connect IRTRs with the humanware: teaching, coaching, training, and learning.

Where does humanware fit in?  Alignment for success:  are you aware of your technology master plan in your district? professional development; curriculum blue prints; if teachers are only going to teach the SOLs, then we are still behind.  The last piece is school improvement so you should be aware of the school improvement plan.  How do we get connected with those people?

Data Wise from Harvard University includes 8 steps that begins with organizing for collaborative work and ends with acting and assessing.   He has a matrix of tools that will help the team be effective.  He aligned the school improvement process with technology tools.  The ITRTs need to understand the school data such as the report card.

Training:  Rich Allen, Train Smart, 2001  Five Pillars of Training:  Engage, Frame, Explore, Debrief, Reflect
Engage: Prepare the mind, you have 5 minutes to establish the connection with an adult; teach people NOT content; teach WITH people to understand the content
Frame: establish relevance, you have one minute to establish relevance, what are you going to help them learn, why is choice good?  Because then people can make connections, now you have the next 30 minutes to involve the key concepts
Explore: Learning + Enjoyment = Concepts; people remember the good and the ugly
Debrief: Consolidating learning: how are they going to apply it to the real world?
Reflect: Embed Learning: give them stories.

Quotes Confucious: I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.

Teaching:  connect the goals and objectives, what are we doing and trying to get across
The ABCD method of writing objectives
Condition: how should they be able to do it?
Degree: how much should they be able to do it?

Time Dependancy

Discusses Marzano’s strategies:  we don’t see it as much as we should
The nine strategies are very powerful: the top three are reinforcing effort and providing recognition, summarizing and notetaking, similarities and differences

New book: Using Technology With Classroom Instruction the Works

He outlines planning question and instructional strategies.

He suggests applying the Madeleine Hunter model: from purpose to closer
Hal Portner, Workshops that Really Work

Showed the A Vision of K-12 Students Today

Coaching: NSDC says that effective coaching means you are with a person one on one.    In the coaching model, there is some risk.  There are three major levels of risk; are you going to be conservative, moderate or aggressive?

Kimberly Ketterer, “Coach, Nurture or Nudge?”  L&L

Coach:  there is a paradigm shift from a traditional classroom to one who integrates technology.  The adult is now a risk taker who trusts the coach.  They are willing to embrace the information and collaborate.

Nurture: The adult is not confident and are still learning skills and applications.  But they are willing to try.  this adult lacks the confidence and they want to watch you do it.  They will say that time is a major problem.  They like small achievements.

Nudge: This is the person that is satisfied with the way things are.  These people are uncertain and anxious.

Learning:  How do ITRTs connect to the learning process to get adults to learn?
Showed a graphic of the basic neuron types:  what does it take to help teachers understand the make up of the brain and what’s happening inside.  He talked about Howard Gardner and multiple intelligence theory.  http://literacyworks.org/mi/home.html  You can assess your learning style here.

Marcia Tate: Sit & Get Won’t Grow Dendrites:  she talks about adult learning and strategies and activities for how to work with adults.

How do we connect Humanware to Web 2.0 for professional development and learning?  He pointed to
•    http://www.wetpaint.com
•    http://talkingletter.com
•    http://www.wonderfile.net
•    Center for Learning & Performance Technologies http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/top100.html

Here’s what ITRTs need to do:
•    We have to know the goals and objectives of the school.
•    We have to develop collegial relationships.
•    We have to recognize that the adults have the expertise.
•    We have to align activities with the curriculum.
•    We have to help them understand that technology can help improve instruction and delivery.

We must provide our children the best possible learning environments to foster critical thinking, innovations and problem solving to better our society.  Fred Scott

ITRTs Lead Out Loud: http://www.leadoutloud.ca

To get results with technology integration, we need to invest in people…nurture, cultivate and develop them to ensure that tools make a difference in learning.

Remember, FRED:
Educate and

They did a share fair at his school division for the school board so they could understand the ITRT position.

http://fredwscott.edublogs.com  for downloading the presentation