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Ten Steps to Effective Technology Staff Development
Published: 5/1/1999 This article
was originally published in Edutopia
with title for original article
How do you develop a plan for technology
use if teachers don't know what they don't know?
A staff development plan that
embraces a variety of learning opportunities based on individual learning
plans is the most effective design for teachers to use if they are expected
to transfer the use of technology to their classrooms. Design a plan where
all stakeholders provide input. If teachers feel they have been heard, they
will accept more ownership of the plan and feel pride in implementing it.
We need to consider the different learning styles of adults as well as students.
Adults bring a highly developed set of beliefs about what is and what is
not appropriate in a given situation. Any technology use has to be relevant
to what the teachers are doing or plan to do with their students.
The following list includes 10 strategies for making professional development
at your school inclusive, meaningful, and specific to the needs of your
particular teachers and students.
- Develop a staff development
subcommittee as part of the school technology committee with representatives
from all departments, grade levels, the district office, and administration,
and include outside experts, technicians, and students.
- Demonstrate some examples
of how technology can be used in the classroom. Then ask your staff
for input. Use a form that asks them their needs, frustrations, fears,
hopes on what they want to learn, and dreams and goals for their students
as they relate to technology and their classroom. Brainstorm in small
groups where they are now and where they want to be in the future, record
results on flip chart paper, and post these results so everyone can
refer to them.
- Use a needs assessment
instrument that follows the Teacher Technology Standards (ISTE)
and that identifies comfort level and attitude about technology, basic
technology use, and level of integration. Use this instrument to determine
each teacher's present level of technology use. Have them choose three
to five areas where they would like to see improvement by the end of
the school year. As part of the needs assessment, you can also ask teachers
to include a narrative on their technology use: where they are now,
where they want to be, and what they need to learn to get there. Many
times teachers do not know what they need to learn, so this step may
need to be repeated during the year.
- Design individual learning
compiled from the data collected from each staff member. As an example,
if teachers list themselves as comfortable with technology but new at
graphic design, have them create a project or template that can be used
in their classroom as part of a workshop on importing graphics. The
ILP can be a database with examples of suggested learning opportunities.
Each teacher can access the database, add to it, keep a reflection log
or journal, and post any projects they may want to share.
- Identify the leaders at
your site who can provide expertise. Offer stipends for planning time
and any workshops they provide after school hours. Provide resources
such as technology for research and development of workshops they design.
Realize that for every hour of a workshop, it takes over two hours of
planning. Do not forget to offer advanced workshops for their professional
growth. You may even identify some students or business partners to
be part of your leadership team. You may never know the areas of expertise
available from teachers and students unless you ask.
- Create a list of on-site
learning opportunities with goals, objectives and outcomes. Provide
collaborative time at least once a week where the trainers offer workshops
and coaching. Also, build in release time for staff development such
as peer-coaching, modeling lessons, team teaching, participating in
a study group, shadowing other teachers, developing curriculum, "just-in-time"
sessions, and previewing curriculum resources.
- Share a list of off-site
learning opportunities. Cover the expenses of conferences and workshops
and provide substitutes for off-site school visits. Other opportunities
include grant writing and reading, research projects, university classes,
subscriptions to journals, access to the Internet and e-mail, distance
learning and video conferences, zero-interest loans for computers, and
videos, software, and laptop computers for check-out.
- Build in time for grade-level
or department meetings to plan and correlate standards with technology,
develop activities, projects and lessons that include technology, classroom
management strategies, and assessment instruments that evaluate student
achievement and understanding. Include time for brainstorming, sharing,
and developing materials. Add paid time in the summer for teams of teachers
to collaborate and develop curriculum projects.
- At staff meetings, share
successes as well as expectations not met. Celebrate projects in school
newsletters, press releases to local newspapers, faxes to parents, on
the school Web site, at parent and board meetings, in a video that can
be checked out at the local video store, and even on the local cable
- Continue with ongoing planning
and re-evaluating where you are and where you want to be. After you
start using technology, needs change. Review and update the ILPs on
a regular basis. Have teachers create a portfolio of their work and
include examples of student work for dissemination. Ask students what
they felt about using technology and how it affected their learning.
This approach takes money and time, but if you design and use these
strategies as a team, it will create a feeling of "We can do
it!" over and over again.
Barbara Bray is President of Computer Strategies, LLC and
the new division, My eCoach. http://my-ecoach.com.
Bray writes a monthly column on professional development for CUE and moderates
an active listserv (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Any comments, questions, or information about the column can be directed
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"Research has borne out the potential for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) as an aid to educators in support of each other, and, to improve the teaching and learning environment by modeling the self-organization and self-determination that are hallmarks of independent, lifelong learners. These characteristics help to reinforce the idea that everyone at school is both a teacher and a learner. My eCoach is the best tool of which I am aware that can support these self-organized, peer-learning groups.
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