Due to budget cutbacks, our Staff Development department is going to be much smaller. As a result, schools are going to have to look to themselves for professional development. I had the pleasure of working with the staff of Coquitlam River Elementary once or twice a month for this year on integrating technology into the classroom.
One of my last suggestions was to have people put up their hands and give a 30 minute session on some sort of technology in the classroom idea. Two teachers said yes, with the first teacher volunteering to present on using MS Word’s “Book Fold” feature .
The format was to create a lunch hour “Lunch and Learn” 30 minute workshop, complete with a student sample, written instructions, a digital template so you don’t have to make it yourself, and of course a demonstration of how to create a book using the book fold feature.
This lunch hour workshop adds no time onto the teacher’s day, makes for “easily digestible” concepts, and provides support so teachers can use the idea right away.
But how many teachers are interested in integrating technology into their classroom? I found that about half the teachers would be interested in attending this particular workshop. But I also thought that a number of teachers at three other schools within a five to seven minute drive of Coquitlam River Elementary would be interested in creating books with their students using MS Word.
I asked principals to inquire with their staff to see if one teacher was interested in attending. The principal would go into the teacher’s class on the Friday, 15 minutes before lunch. This would allow the teacher to get to the host school, sandwich and laptop / notepad in hand.
Four teachers attended from the three other schools, as well as four members from the host school’s staff.
If you count the principal, we then had 9 people attending this workshop. And when I asked teachers from each of the schools that attended, they all:
- Enjoyed the topic
- Appreciated the strict adherence to the timeline
- Made a commitment to using the idea, sharing it with a colleague, or sharing it at a staff meeting
- Would be willing to share a 30 minute idea of their own on using technology in the classroom at their school, and invite teachers from the other 3 schools to attend.
Principals were also really supportive of this idea going forward, especially as there will be fewer professional development options next year. They have committed to encouraging a teacher, (or perhaps more than one) to share a 30 minute lunch time workshop, to communicate this workshop with the other members of their pro-d Co-Op, and to cover a teacher’s class 15 minutes before lunch to allow a teacher to get to their neighbouring school to attend the 30 minute workshop.
What I wonder about next would be the importance of providing handouts online and perhaps screencasting to support teachers sharing a lesson they learned at a staff meeting. That would be like bringing the teacher who taught the lesson to 3 different staff meetings at the same time!
But regardless of what technology is used, local schools banding together to provide pro-d for each other sounds like a sustainable model, and I am looking forward to see what September will bring.
Incidentally, the next 30 minute workshop will be in September, and the topic is “Pinterest for the K-5 Classroom.” Stay tuned!