I just moved to a new town and one of my new neighbors just happens to be a school administrator. I can guarantee you that he will not read this post as he sees no need for technology in his building or apparently in his life. In this post we will refer to my neighbor as Craig. Craig seems to me, very much, a bricks and mortar kind of guy.
Craig and I have talked about what I do for the Center at Rutgers. He sees me sitting on the front porch working on my laptop while my kids play in the front yard. He knows I usually have by Blackberry on me when I take the dog for walks. Craig on the other hand is very off-the-grid. I’m not even certain he owns a cell phone.
Does Craig know what is coming? Has he read the new Educational Technology Standards for Administrators? I’m thinking he hasn’t as he is extremely resistant to even talking about technology with me. It’s to the point that we just talk about our children and the neighborhood and not our jobs. This is a shame as I would love to talk shop with a neighbor. I also would like to hear more about his philosophy on teaching and learning and how it has changed since he started teaching 15 years ago. He really just seems to be one of those 8 to 3 teachers admins that we hear about (in his case 7 to 2).
Why do I bring this up on Leadership Day 2009? Well, recently I had a conversation with Scott McLeod about making sure that professional development is designed for the needs of the attendees and not the needs of a predetermined program.
So this is a big issue for me and I would think many others that consult or work in administrative roles. When you design an initiative or any type of sustained professional development, you set objectives. You design your program with some flexibility, as that is on of the main ingredients to success, yet you obviously have certain components in mind. Though these objectives may not be cookie-cutter, they can’t possibly fit every teacher that decides to enroll or is told to participate. But after talking with Scott, I realized that no matter how flexible I am, whatever I design for the educators I am working with, unless they are able to articulate what they need from me, I am not going to be able to help them.
So here is a short list that is going to help me design better PD. I don’t think this is anything that any of us didn’t already know. I just needed to be concise about it:
- This is the teachers learning environment – not the professional development providers
- Teachers have to take ownership of their learning
- Teachers have to look at technology as a learning tool rather than a social tool
If this list looks familiar to you it’s because it’s very much the same model we use for our students.
I hope this helps you in some small way. Thinking it all through has helped me. I know for Craig, he needs the upper admininstration in his district to begin modeling excellence in professional practice. Until Craig is ready accept that his district will ultimately move towards a technology-infused curriculum, he’s going to get left in the chalk dust.