The process of going 1:1 with digital tools and resources involves many steps. Providing the proper infrastructure, informing stakeholders, aligning district goals, and choosing devices are among the many tasks. Needless to say, it is an overwhelming process. A crucial step in this initiative involves providing consistent professional development opportunities to teachers.
A successful approach to 1:1 professional development begins with digital tools and progresses to instructional strategies. Wild thought right!?
I have the privilege of working in one of the best school districts in the state of Mississippi. We’ve implemented 1:1 and I’ve learned so much throughout this process. Among the many things I’ve learned, placing professional development priorities on tools first stands out. I wanted to start with instructional strategies: TPCK and the SAMR model. It makes sense to introduce these things first and for some districts it probably is the best way to start. However, I learned that teachers really wanted to be tech-savvy first and here’s why:
Narrowing the focus of professional development allowed teachers time to master one skill at a time. Providing 1:1 professional development in instructional strategies is imperative for the success of 1:1 initiatives. However, time is a resource that needs to be utilized efficiently. One of the biggest challenges for teachers was learning to use Schoology. However, because we narrowed the focus on How to use Schoology tools versus How to use Schoology and incorporated a specific instructional strategy, many teachers had time to gain confidence in using the LMS. This in turn led to teacher buy-in in the 1:1 initiative, which leads into the second point.
If they know it, they will use it. Often stretching the professional development between tools and instruction can be counter-productive. During ISTE, I had the opportunity to meet great technology coaches. Our conversations on 1:1 varied, but one theme was consistent: teachers were reluctant to use digital tools because the professional development began with instructional strategies first and digital tools second. Well, let’s be honest, why would I use Google sites as student portfolios or use test questions in Schoology if I can’t use the tools?
It’s not that teachers shouldn’t take risks even if they don’t know how to use the tools completely. It’s about empowering the teacher by building their confidence and ability in using the digital tools first and instructional strategies soon after. If they know the tool, they will use it. If they can use the tool, they will be willing to move up and down the SAMR scale.
If they know it and they use it, students will benefit. Our goal is to increase student engagement. Our goal is to show students that school is relevant to life. Our students were born to the world of “there’s an app for that”. The 20th-century factory model of student learning is dead. Our students live in a world where global collaboration, coding, and being able to use technology tools for more than they were planned for are job skills. Tomorrow’s job requires innovation in the digital landscape. If we empower, encourage and set the expectation for teachers to use digital tools along with effective instructional strategies, we will see our students grow and qualify for those future jobs.
So, what happens next?
Well, let’s develop “eagle eyes” when we start planning for 1:1 professional development. Focus on the tools first, with instructional strategies second. Let’s remember if we build the teacher’s confidence in using the tools, they will begin to incorporate them into their lessons. In exchange, students will encounter rich digital experiences that will move them to become lifelong learners.So, how do YOU structure 1:1 professional development? Let’s connect and let me know.
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.