Sunday, February 21, 2016

Move Over Flair

Probably the most common issue we hear about in life has to do with not having enough time for, and fill in the blank. Often the counter to that statement is we will make time for what is important, which is true to an extent, but doesn't change the fact that in our professional lives we still must prioritize. What has been a struggle for a number of years now from a technology integration perspective, is how we provide solid professional development to our teaching staff that is relevant, timely, and doesn't require the traditional hour before or after school that teachers may not have time for. 

Short Meaningful PD
I like to use the average length of a YouTube video to provoke discussion on just how long someone will stay with you when providing PD. Depending on what day you check, the average length of the top five most popular YouTube videos vary from 2.5 to 4.5 minutes long. When I checked #popularonyoutube when writing this post, the longest video was 5.31 and the shortest was 31 seconds. I would imagine that some may say if the content is good, it doesn't matter how much time it takes to view and to some extent that may be true. However in the hustle and bustle of the K-12 setting, moving at the pace of 140 characters at a time seems to make more sense if we want to reach a larger audience. At AJUSD we have made the conscience effort to change the way we are providing PD to our teaching staff that provides short, meaningful bursts of sharing content while staying as close to the 15 minute window as possible. Bethany Ligon, AJUSD's Technology Integration Specialist, has taken this approach with our collaboration coach tips and tools videos recently and we are monitoring feedback on video length to see what is most effective for our staff. 

Badge Up
Another area that takes time and attention is growing our professional learning networks and sharing what our teachers and administrators are doing on their campus. Social media has obviously been a game changer in this area and blending this with the traditional walking by a classroom and seeing evidence of the great things happening, has led us into the badge game. It is difficult for just one district TIS, to get around to every classroom and see what is happening. With a quick Google Site and Forms, teachers and administrators can apply for a badge, share their artifacts, display their accomplishment, and share with others how they are integrating technology in their classrooms. Bethany summed up nicely what she enjoys most about implementing this program:

The best part for me, is that teachers are able to request training on exactly what they want. It's not a one size fits all professional development setting anymore. But it's me meeting with one teacher or a small team of teachers who want to grow their instructional toolbox in a specific area or with a particular tech tool/app. And because I now have documentation on which teacher is proficient on each tool, I can use them as a resource as needed. 
Another "best part" for me is the teacher's reaction when I walk into their rooms on a Thursday afternoon to hand them their badge. Yesterday, a teacher literally jumped up and down and clapped her hands because she was so excited and then her little first graders started cheering for her. That totally made my day.

Find A Way
Time doesn't have to be a monster that keeps us from growing and sharing on a professional level. If we look around and see what others are doing, share what we are doing, and be willing to try new things, great things will happen. In the words of Ian Malcolm, life finds a way.