Professional Development for staff in the 21st Century
Giving my age away, I remember when I was a student and the school I was in,
bought their first overhead projector. WOW, this was incredible. Today of course
you get interactive boards, Ipads, Apple TV, Xbox and a whole range of others.
Using these tools can change the way you teach, what you teach and how you teach it.
It makes classes fun, interactive and exciting.
Having taught ICT and computing for the last number of years learning new pieces
of software, coding, etc is part of the job. It is the one of the things that I really enjoy,
the constant change of technology and the new exciting things that come out all the time.
But it can get daunting as well. There is so much coming out so quickly that it is not
possible to stay on the forefront in all things with regards to ICT.
I believe that my school in South Africa had the correct approach to staff development
and ongoing professional development with regards to ICT and implementation.
As part of my role in the school, I was in charge of ICT implementation.
The teachers could choose to attend one session every 2 weeks. Each session was
20 - 30 minutes long and was either before school started or after school. This made it
easier for teachers to decide which session would suit them best. During this time,
I would concentrate on one thing that I could show the teachers that they could use
it in their classroom. For example, I would show them a piece of software, a web tool,
a bit of pedagogy, etc.
This was important, as there was a range of teacher abilities and knowledge and this
made it easier for them to use technology that was appropriate for their ability.
For the more advanced user they were introduced to new technology or tools that they
could integrate into their class.
Once a week I had a meeting with each department where we would discuss what they
were teaching and what technology they were using to enrich their lessons. I was
responsible for finding appropriate software, websites and tools that the teachers
could use in their classes.
For the new teachers or teachers that were less tech savvy, I would teach the lesson
for them to show them how to use the technology in their classroom. Before the
lesson, I would always tell the teacher two things:
The teacher had to be in the class and observe me teach the class, as I was doing this
for them, not for their class.
Secondly, I could never teach their class as well as they could, as they knew the
children in their classes and they were the subject specialists.
My task was to show them how to use the technology in their class more effectively.
A week or so later I would then team-teach with the staff member before observing a
lesson that they were teaching a few weeks later.
One thing I realised is that there are many companies that you can contact to do ICT staff development and training for FREE.
SchoolNet in South Africa were incredible with organising many different training
courses for the school that they did for free. I could not have done this without them.
Through SchoolNet the staff managed to complete courses through Microsoft, Intel
and Adobe. Not only did this assist them professionally, but personally as well as
many of these courses led to other opportunities.
I believe that so often schools do staff development that is not really developing
their staff. Each school needs to find the best way for them to do constructive staff
development that works for them. The schools do not need to do this by themselves,
get involved and find other people / companies to assist.
People need to remember that this is a journey and every person will progress at their
own speed. There is no overnight success. One of the most important things is that the
professional development must happen all the time, not only on a Friday afternoon
when there is a allocated timetabled slot for this to happen.
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