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Rethinking Faculty Development

Posted by phourigan on May 8, 2010

As I’ve said before, I’m trying to shift our “tech development” to “curriculum development that takes advantage of what technology has to offer”.  I should come up with an acronym for that.

I’ve been working on a professional development model that is based on incentives, to get our teachers over the fear of taking a look at their curriculum.  It’s based on getting them together with other teachers just to talk about what they teach, why they teach it, and how they teach it.  It’s a three part model, so bear with me:

Part One: Faculty Incentive Plan

A comprehensive professional development plan with a technology incentive upon completion.  Faculty apply to a PD Committee and approved teachers match up with a PLP Year One member.

Participants must complete the following:

* Coordinate kickoff workshop in August with [coordinate school] participants [Our school has a coordinate partnership with a girls’ school down the street]
* Attend two workshops hosted by Intermediate Units addressing specific issues in their field [PA has IUs who support public and private PD efforts]
* Creation or expansion of their Professional Learning Network through social networking tools (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc) with assistance from a PLP member
* Two offsite visits to other schools through contacts in their Professional Learning Network
* Attendance at their discipline’s national conference (participants may opt for attendance at a regional conference)
* Ten monthly coordinate workshops with [coordinate school] participants to exchange ideas, build community and further increase personal and professional learning
* Presentation at a faculty meeting demonstrating their process and progress
All participants will be required to keep a public blog chronicling their experience

Participants who complete these requirements will receive an iPad for personal and professional use.

Part Two: Ongoing Technology Training

A year long training plan designed to increase facility with tools being used on our campus.  Faculty volunteers conduct weekly before school sessions under the supervision of the Director of Educational Technology [that’s me] demonstrating the use of various tools found in our classrooms: SMARTBoards, laptops, digital cameras, video cameras and software.

Teachers who lead three sessions receive an iPod Touch.  Teachers who attend ten sessions and demonstrate their use of these tools in the classroom receive an iPod Touch.

Part Three: In-Service Day UnConference

The participant-driven UnConference provides for meaningful collaboration and professional development.  Participants moderate and participate in workshops of their own creation.  A simple and dynamic process lies at the core of the UnConference: on the morning of the in-service day, faculty and staff use Google Docs to either sign up for an existing workshop or create their own (and offer to moderate) if they find no other topic of interest.  As more participants create workshop opportunities, every faculty and staff member has the opportunity to attend or facilitate a session in which they have interest.

Each teacher signs up for or creates as many workshops as interests him.  Each workshop nominates a scribe who generates summary notes for the workshop and posts the notes to the [my school] Ning.

Our Year One PLP team proposes that [my school] dedicate the November 8, 2010 in-service day to an UnConference with the goal of bringing teachers together to exchange ideas about good teaching and learning.  While PLP promotes the appropriate and effective use of technology in teaching and learning, we stress that the workshops do not need to be technology oriented.  Because the faculty, not the technology department or the administration, design the conference workshops it is our hope that the environment generates authentic and frank discussion over myriad topics and relevant faculty interests.

Cost: Five iPod Touch devices for raffle

I like this proposal because A) I wrote it (with help in Part three from our PLP team) and B) it abandons the idea that tool training is how to conduct good faculty professional development.  I don’t know if my school is quite ready to embrace this idea, but I suppose I’ll find out soon enough. If I’m to get started in September, I need to identify the people who want to participate in Part One as soon as I can.  There are great summer conferences out there and I don’t want to start too late.

If you have any comments, please feel free to share.

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2 Responses to “Rethinking Faculty Development”

  1. Susie said

    And, take it one step further…an online curriculum management tool that promostes collaboration and can incorporate online PD for asynchronous learning when it’s convenient/needed for/by the learner!

    • phourigan said

      We’ve been using Moodle for course management, but for various reasons it hasn’t been adopted across the board. I can’t help but see this as one of those areas where we’ll look back in five years and say, “How was it possible that our courses didn’t have an online component?”

      Now, using Moodle for online PD – that’s an interesting idea! Do you have any experience using an online PD tool? Elluminate, etc?

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