On-site professional development for teachers
The school’s computers and network were upgraded and it was time to upskill the teachers in the technology.
Training was provided in accessing the network, file management, &c. Teachers were trained in the use of various applications. Ways of using them in the classroom were discussed.
The success of this led to a 10-week professional development programme.
The aim was to provide individualized professional development in IT for the teaching staff with preference for professional development that would have direct application in the classroom. Each teacher had an individual professional development plan.
Although classroom activities were targeted, the objective was to not skew the learning objectives of students towards IT but, rather, to augment the programme and better support the prevailing learning objectives. This dictated that the tools to be used should (for the most part) be those that were available to the students, i.e. on the networked computers.
It was anticipated that, because of the diversity of IT skills amongst the staff, the requirements would vary considerably between teachers. So, it was expected that the type of support would range from fundamental aspects of the operating system to using advanced applications and that the support required delivery would range from individuals to level groups to the entire teaching staff.
Not only were teachers starting from different points, they would also heading in different directions: so a variety of activities was anticipated, broadening the knowledge base of the staff as a whole.
The range of areas covered included movie-making, desktop publishing, using science simulation software in the classroom, developing proficiency with Excel, web searching strategies, desktop videoconferencing, website development.
Because the professional development was happening throughout the teaching term, organizing convenient session times was expected to be a significant challenge. However, teachers enthusiastically arranged sessions before school, at lunchtime and after school – the times being determined by the teachers. There was also extensive dialogue via email.
Outcomes were excellent with staff meeting their aims in breadth and depth, also commenting very positively on the process.
Apart from the explicit, curriculum-focused outcomes, there was a clearly observable increase in the willingness to ‘have a go’ and some staff actually identified their improved confidence in formal feedback comments. This was especially observable in staff who had previously identified themselves as being poor at IT.