Beginning anew. . . again

In keeping with the theme of staff development,  I thought it’d be a good time to look back at Ken Pruitt’s three questions for school districts, which Scott McLeod highlighted on his blog in July.

I’ll take the liberty of re-posting his questions here:

  1. What are the 21st century skills we want our teachers to model?
  2. How can we provide consistent and relevant training to 200 teachers?
  3. Will adequate resources encourage teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum?

At our campus we are grappling with a new schedule that builds in more weekly time for staff development, with a combination of study groups, book groups, technology workshops, and curricular workshops that are offered weekly.   I’m one of a few charged with helping plan this whole effort.

It’s important to me to provide choice so that the learning is grass-roots, and teacher-driven, while still being able to hold scheduled trainings.   We’ve surveyed our faculty to get a sense of the areas they are interested in receiving training, and the types of delivery they would prefer.

Interestingly, the survey bore out the results we anticipated–teachers wanted more in-house workshops, more choice in topics, fewer large group presentations, and many of their requests focused on 21st century skills.

We’re planning to allow teachers to form study groups/book groups within their departments or across departments, and several of us have been helping compile a book list as a starting point for those groups.  

There will be other more traditional workshops or trainings offered as well, and trying to sort out how to coordinate these weekly is something I’ve been pondering.  We want to draw on our own teachers abilities and wisdom, as well as use tools like Skype to draw in outside guests.

One thing we have heard frequently from staff is that inservice often seems disjointed and disconnected.  So we’re trying to run technology and other workshops that are more thematic throughout a six weeks, so that they are more developmental over time.  I think Ken Pruitt’s question about consistency is a very important one.

I’m also hoping we can integrate blogs into the staff development pieces, as well, once the logistics are worked out–to provide more consistency and long term discussion.

Too often, it seems like there is little larger purpose in the smattering of inservice that teachers receive.  I think that defining the larger goals for the campus and district and centering all our efforts around those big ideas (BHAG) can turn inservice from something painful to be endured, to something powerful and authentic. 

Just as we want our students’ experiences to be meaningful and real, don’t we want the learning experiences our teachers have to be equally powerful?

As I read other blogs, across the world, from Texas to Shanghai to New Jersey and back to Texas, I see so much mindful thinking about how to bring authentic learning to our classrooms. 

So, as we approach the start of school, sincere hats off to educators all over the world who are preparing to begin anew to engage our students in learning.

One thought on “Beginning anew. . . again

  1. Well said,
    I would love to see more use of some of the tools we (as edubloggers) use everyday. Blogs and skype alone have helped me become who I am in this field. You can learn from so much from the likes of Jukes and Siemens all from the comfort of your couch.

    I think with knowledge will come change. After all change does not become practice until you understand why you must change.

    Thank you for participating in this conversation. I look forward to reading, and using more of your ideas.

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