Monday, December 15, 2014

Tip #2 for a Successful 1:1 Implementation: Differentiate Teacher Training

Last week at the Minnesota TIES State Technology Conference, Jen Hegna, Director of Information and Learning Technology for Byron Public Schools, and I presented on 1:1 Professional Development: Beyond Year One. Our presentation slides can be found here. Preparing for a presentation is always a good time to analyze and reflect on current practices as you figure out what to highlight and share. Working with someone from another district is a great way to learn about other options and compare notes.

Too often failed 1:1 implementations make headlines for a lack of planning, including professional development.  Well planned and sustained professional development is a key component of a successful 1:1 program.  Budgeting PD funding and staff not only for the initial roll out year but the years to come is essential.  Better yet, begin the PD a year or more ahead of the implementation!

The training should be relevant, frequent, and differentiated.  In Minnetonka, we have found great success with small group meetings held before/during/after school.  Sometimes teachers meet by grade levels and subjects, and other times by ability and interest.  Providing teachers with opportunities to connect, collaborate, and brainstorm ideas has advanced the level of technology integration we see on a daily basis in our 1:1 program.  We schedule these half-day sessions in August and two to three additional times during the school year, depending on the number of years of experience teachers have. Each of our teachers will receive about nine hours total of training this year, an amount that has decreased quite a bit from four years ago when iPad were so new to everyone--back then it was six full days during the first year!  

Building on our tradition of successful large group professional development trainings during our first years of 1:1, we have implemented a differentiated training model by listening to teacher feedback and working with building administration.  With the integration of 1:1 iPads we found that our training methods had to evolve to better meet the varied needs of all our teachers. In addition, we wanted the training to provide a way to model better practices of classroom integration.  

Over the years, our staff trainings moved away from the stand and deliver format to a more interactive approach that gives teachers opportunity to self pace while learning how to use new technology.  This model also frees the instructor to take on a facilitator and coaching role and better help all user abilities in the same training. Our teachers take part in numerous training sessions throughout the year where they meet, collaborate, and learn with one another to better implement the technology into their classrooms. Teachers on Special Assignment for Instructional Technology (Tech TOSAs) and Media Specialists work closely with their colleagues to integrate technology into all curricular areas, including art, music, business, health, physical education, special education, family and consumer science, media, as well as all core areas. For our teachers with a year or more of experience, a flexible model has been created as illustrated in the flow chart below. Teachers get to choose how they want to spend a third of their PD time, giving them more buy in and ownership of their learning.

They can choose to observe their colleagues teaching for an hour, work one on one with a Tech Coach, meet in a small group of their choosing, or attend a before school session on a topic of their choice. To document this, our instructional technology staff has created a collaborative document which is shared with each teacher to outline their learning and goals for the year, such as the small group planning document pictured below:

In addition to these flexible training opportunities, we have many other ways we help develop the skills of our 1:1 teachers, including frequently highlighting ideas in staff meetings and newsletter type communications, all with the goal of building a common language around iPad integration.  We also have an online Schoology (LMS) group for just our 1:1 teachers, and have begun offering some online learning PD options for teachers, too.

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