Professional Learning

Tech Tuesday: How to Stop Worrying and Love the Tech

February 20, 2015

One of my duties as STEM coordinator on my campus is to assist teachers in all departments with technology integration.  This task has proven more difficult than I had first hoped considering that we are a BYOD school.  A quite common and valid complaint among our faculty is the difficulty in finding time for professional development.  That is true.  I don’t think any of us can complain of having extra time on our hands.  My principal suggested the implementation of “Tech Tuesday” professional development sessions.  While it is hard to measure the success of the program so far, it is at least sparking conversations about ways that we incorporate the power of student devices into the existing curriculum.

11 Important Lessons from our Early Implementation

  1. Informal setting - It’s after school.  Students have been clamoring for attention all day.  You’ve been on your feet for eight hours.  The last thing that faculty want to do is to be lectured at.  If possible, try to stage the session in the library or some other comfortable place on campus.
  2. Personal invitations - Send more than just an email reminder.  Even in the digital age, I have found that I get a better response from a face to face meeting.
  3. Short, regular meetings - We have scheduled our Tech Tuesdays for the 4th Tuesday of every month.  This provides some regularity and allows teachers with children at home to make arrangements to stay late.  Any more often would seem to be just an extra demand on already short time.  Keeping the sessions under an hour helps prevent undue boredom.
  4. Novice and Advanced Sessions - Faculty have a wide range of comfort and skills when it comes to technology.  Keeping the material too basic could leave out a large section who need a more in-depth look at some topics.  When possible, I like to have two different sessions going at the same time.
  5. Door prizes - At our first session, we had two rooms, two presenters, two demonstrations prepared.  One interested party showed up.  Perhaps we were over ambitious at first.  Perhaps we could have spread the word more.  Or perhaps incentive was needed.  A $10 Starbucks gift card drawing might be a good way to raise attendance for at least the first few meetings.
  6. Varying topics - Keep it fresh so it's not the same thing month after month.  Maybe an English teacher uninterested in flipping their classroom would be excited by using YouTube to bring Shakespeare to life.
  7. Sample topics from our sessions this year:
    1. January: Google Apps
    2. February: The internet: more than just email
    3. March: Flipping do’s and don’ts
    4. April: Getting the most out of your gradebook
    5. May: Preparing your website for next year
  • Offer CPE hours - While the rules vary between state and district, it is worth checking to see if some sort of professional development hours can be awarded.
  • Make it hands-on - I would almost do anything else than sit in a technology session where I am shown a PowerPoint of someone else using a new app.  Humans learn by doing.  So do!
  • Time for sharing - We’re teachers.  We like to teach.  Don’t plan on the planned presentation lasting the entire time.  Leave space for others to share what they have been using technology for in the classroom.
  • Continue the conversation - Just like students, we need to practice something to get good at it.  Follow up conversations can keep the ball rolling in between meetings.
  • 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.

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