Differentiating Teacher Training

I am so thankful to all of the wonderful and dynamic people who participated in the blog’s recent Diffusion of Innovations series. We’ve been able to benefit and learn from the collective experiences of teachers, trainers, IT professionals, and librarians. As a way to close the series, I would just like to offer some ideas that have worked for me In the last few years to help spread ways to integrate technology with the teachers that I work with.
First, I must admit that I had a great advantage in terms of time as a library media specialist this year. Time is important because, just like students, teachers often learn beat when they can meet 1 on 1 because it removes much of the fear. They don’t have to worry about looking or feeling incompetent in front of their peers. Of course, no one feels that way but th perception persists for many. One way we can support them is by creating a safe learning environment. It is important to remember that best practices with students often apply with teachers.
It is bittersweet to give up a planning period. But it can be tremendously beneficial to other teachers if you can offer to work with them on a planning period. This can mean bringing up new ideas or coplanning lessons if you have the same planning period or can meet outside of regular hours. When coplanning, I like to let the teacher be the content area expert. I obviously can’t be the expert on every content area. What I can offer is the ability to match whatever their learning goals are to the tool that will best help their students to accomplish those goals.
Even after coplanning, many will still be hesitant to try new things without support. This is where you can make a major difference by offering to coteach on your planning period. As a librarian, I would setup my day so that I could coteach all day. When working with people who were nervous, I would try to structure the day so that I would lead more on the beginning and move more of the responsibility onto the teacher as the day progressed. Sometimes it tookmpre than one day, but most of the time the teacher was able to teach fully by the end of the day with me just there for support. The hope is that after becoming proficient with a tool, the teacher will be able to continue to embed the tool in their instruction when appropriate.
Now matter what techniques you use to help other teachers, there are a few things to be aware of. First, know your staff. Just like with students, you need to understand both their capabilities as well as understand them as individuals. Make it a point to develop relationships with those in your building. It will go a long way toward making people more receptive to your ideas. Second, so one thing at a time and don’t try to overdo it. Most people who have trained others on technology know the glazed over look – when they are physically still present but their mind and attention are anywhere but. So, if someone has never thought of making a simple class website, it might not be wise to push Moodle on them the first time you meet. All you may accomplish may be scaring people off despite your intentions. Lastly, make sure that you’re available, approachable (not the same thing), and that you offer continuous support. Especially if you introduce something long term, like a class blog, check on the teacher and the class regularly to make sure that they are still doing alright.
I would appreciate any comments or thoughts that you may have. I hope that forgive any rambling. I am without a computer for the summer. I am typing this on an iPod and am finding the experience difficult as my typing cannot keep pace with my thinking. Thank you again to everyone who has contributed to, commented on, or followed this series.

  • http://journeyintech.blogspot.com/ dgende

    Jason,
    Thank you for your posting, you really offer great ideas!
    I agree with your point about developing relationships with our faculty. It makes things much better.
    Your point about teachers being the content experts resonates with our instructional technology premises. We strongly believe that content and pedagogy drive the technology. One of our PD frameworks is the TPACK model (http://bit.ly/a1Sap6)

    Over the last two days of inservice we had all of our faculty and administration create Individual Plans for 21st Century. This will allow us to customize training sessions for everybody, a.k.a. as differentiated instruction!
    I wrote about it on my blog:
    http://bit.ly/dzF266
    and would love to hear your comments!
    .-= dgende´s last blog ..Professional Development: IP21 =-.

  • http://jasontbedell.com Jason Bedell

    Thanks dgende,
    I am very impressed by how your training plans are broken down by position, which is rare in my experience. I have to look more into the TPACK model as I am not too familiar with it.
    .-= Jason Bedell´s last blog ..Introducing Steven Davis =-.