Friday, November 20, 2009

Rethinking Professional Development

I have been thinking about effective means of professional development for teachers for a long time. I started my edtech career as a Professional development specialist at Tom Snyder Productions. They still use my picture on their website. Not to bite the hand that still occasionally feeds me (I freelance for TSP), but lately I have been questioning the effectiveness of the group training model. On the surface it seems like the most efficient way to reach the largest number of people with the most information. In reality however, it doesn't quite work that way. I find it hard to get people to attend, hard to meet the needs of everyone in the room and hard to make a one day event sustainable over the long term.

I have found that my most effective instruction for teachers takes place one-on-one. I meet with faculty, discuss their needs and then help them to form a goal and implement their plans. This takes more of my time, but ultimately does pay off. I've been thinking about ways to formalize or systematize this method of PD so that I can reach more people in this way. It may take longer to get to everyone, but if I can create a system of one-to-one technology mentoring, ultimately I think I will get more people doing more technology in meaningful ways.

So here is my plan. I am approaching faculty at my school with this idea. In particular, I am talking to faculty who are up for review the following year, and asking them if they would be interested in spending a semester prior to their evaluation meeting with me one-on-one every 2 weeks or so to explore ways that they can better integrate technology into their teaching. I also created a sub group on the ISENet ning and hope this will help participating teachers to reach outside of their face to face network for ideas and to reflect and interact with each other.

I'm really excited about the potential for this project. So far I have three teachers on board and am hopeful that I can get a few more. I've even come up with a name (thanks to my Twitter network for help with this): Technology Exploration And Mentoring (T. E. A. M. Davis).

Have you ever tried anything like this? Do you have any suggestions for me? Are there resources for this kind of one-on-one coaching model that you could point me to? Any and all ideas would be appreciated. Thanks!
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