My focus is on ISTE Educator 3a: Demonstrate fluency in technology systems and transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations. Our teachers have been often stymied in developing true fluency in their tech skills because we’ve used a very traditional model of professional development where we’ve introduced a new tool, given them a couple of hours of ‘sit and get’ training and then sent them off on their own to figure it out. We know that training like that doesn’t work, except for the small majority of pioneer adopters who are self motivated to figure it out. We also often offer these trainings out of context with the curriculum they need to teach which causes even good PD to lack immediate relevance to their classrooms.
The new ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) legislation is offers a slightly new definition for Professional Development that may help districts shift their thinking around how we provide PD for staff and allow them to focus on helping teachers develop the fluency they need to truly support student’s work with technology as well as increasing their own willingness to adapt to the challenges that technology brings. Some of the main shifts are a move toward Professional Development that provides personalized and evidence based learning for teachers. They also define PD as being “sustained (not stand-alone, 1-day or short term workshops), intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven and classroom focused.”
These changes have caused me to take a closer look at our own PD thinking, especially around technology. One of the ways we can begin to personalize and provide evidence based training is to use the idea of microcredentialing for teachers. Once we define professional competencies for teachers, based on what students need to be able to know and be able to do, we can develop a variety of PD options that will allow teachers to make choices about the what they focus on, how they go about learning or showing evidence of their learning.
We recently chose a platform called Kyte Learning to help us with this goal. Kyte is a professional learning system that has skill and pedagogically based training available for many of the most widely used software for education (Google, Office365, LMS systems, Formative Assessment tools, and more). Each module is crafted using videos for learning that are no longer than 3 minutes long. They are in well organized sequences that allow teachers to choose the pieces they need to learn. They are not tied to having to complete sections that are not relevant to their learning. Each course has a section on basic how tos and then move on to uses in the classroom for the tool. We will be able to create our own modules as well and may consider having different levels of mastery for modules (beginner, intermediate and advanced). Each module has an assessment with it but we’ll also be able to require evidence (screen shots, documents, links, etc.) so that teachers have options when giving us evidence. They have the option of skipping to the assessment or evidence submission directly so that teachers who come with the skills can earn the badges without sitting through the whole module. A mastery module, for example, would require student evidence and some reflection of how they used it with students in their classroom.
Our goal is to offer our PD in three ways: 1) in person training (group or individually), 2) Kyte Video Training, 3) Direct submission of evidence. This will allow teachers to personalize their path, show mastery in the competencies, offer choice and at the same time give the district a way to help hold staff accountable to using the skill. The fluency will be built by regularly encouraging teachers to increase their level of credentials each year and purposefully labeling transfer skills and where they can be applied. It will take a while to develop and add our own content but it’s a step in the right direction.
Definition of Professional Development. (n.d.). Retrieved May 02, 2017, from https://learningforward.org/who-we-are/professional-learning-definition
Pierce, D. (2016, May 24). ESSA Redefines Professional Development for Teachers. Are You Ready for This Shift? Retrieved May 02, 2017, from http://www.schoolimprovement.com/essa-professional-development-for-teachers/
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