Wanted: Professional Development

I have now been a teacher and administrator for 23 years. Over this time I have been heavily involved with technology in the school and have observed multiple changes in the use of technology in the classroom and how students learn. It is important to note that technology is not the new way that people learn, but a tool which allows people access to experts and vast amounts of information while giving them the ability to collaborate to create new learning. Technology has allowed people to connect without worry of time and location being factors.
Technology has changed rapidly in schools which has led to many issues including the ability to keep infrastructure updated, keeping staff trained all the while still trying to teach digital citizenship. The schools in our district have maintained their infrastructure, but I am still seeing that teachers do not have the ability to utilize the technology to engage students and help them learn. Thomas & Brown (2011) point out that 21st century learning is not happening in the classroom. In my view this is a valid point. For the most part technology is being used as an ineffective tool by the teachers mainly because they have not been educated on how to use technology effectively in order to engage the new learners.
Teacher training with regards to technology and 21st century learning is one of the concerns that face schools today. How can teachers be properly trained on how students learn and how technology can be used to help aid in this process? This is not an easy task with technology changing so rapidly and information coming into the schools at a snail’s pace. Professional development opportunities such as coaching and professional learning communities, which are researched based quality practices, have taken at least a decade to be seen as common practices within most schools. For example, Showers (1985) wrote an article called Teachers Coaching Teachers, which focuses on peer coaching. Twenty plus years later many school divisions in Alberta are beginning to focus on coaching as a promising practice for teacher learning. If we expect our teachers to adapt to the changes in learning and technology then they need to be given the information and training in a timely manner.

Showers, B. (1985). Teachers coaching teachers. Educational Leadership, Retrieved from http://ecampus.matc.edu/coaching/pdf/teachers_coaching_teachers_km.pdf

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Seattle, WA: Create Space.

About pjstokes

I like just about all sports...mainly participating in them. I have also recently taken up photography as a hobby (the background pic is one of mine).
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One Response to Wanted: Professional Development

  1. Patti J says:

    Hi Pat,
    Your point about professional development is a great one. I wonder how we can provide PD in a timely fashion when technology is changing so rapidly. It seems that by the time our infrastructure is up to snuff with the ‘current’ technology and we implement PD, the ‘current’ technology is obsolete and we are on to something more sophisticated. And it seems that we start over with PD when we start with new teachers. I personally assumed preservice teachers would graduate from university with knowledge of current technologies and their usage that far exceded that of seasoned teachers. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the majority of classrooms in the education building at the U of C don’t even have smart boards! No wonder our new teachers don’t know how to use them! We have smartboards in every classroom in our division and yet it’s our new teachers who need the PD. There seems to be a disconnect there as well!
    Thanks for the great thoughts!

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