Monday, April 17, 2017

Technology Speed Dating Professional Development


Last week at the monthly high school staff meeting, the entire hour was dedicated as  an opportunity to reflect and share second semester work with colleagues from other departments. To coordinate this sharing time, the three high school instructional technology coaches organized a "speed dating" event. In January, all 180 high school teachers were asked to create an engagement commitment for second semester. The commitments ranged from using technology (Desmos, Quizlet Live, EdPuzzle, etc.) to more traditional strategies such as fist to five, movement, and collaborative grouping. Commitments didn't need to be related to technology, but many were. 

Staff worked on these commitments, implemented them with their students over the past four months, and shared their progress and results with department colleagues at the February and March department meetings. Some worked and met with one of the technology instructional coaches individually. All teachers shared their commitment and the results in the form of an initial and follow up post on a Padlet wall. The Padlets were linked in a high school teacher collaborative Schoology course so everyone could see one another’s work and results. 

The speed dating event was set up as a time for teachers to share their results cross departmentally. The instructional technology coaches had tables of 16 set up in a large multipurpose room with seats labeled by subject areas. Staff sat down, met their initial “date” and each shared their commitment, technology tool, and results with one another. Then after two minutes, they rotated around their table, sitting across from a new “date” and repeating the task. Teachers repeated this two more times. Then the table picked one overall teacher’s goal to share with the whole group. 

This was a great culminating event for the high school staff. By using the time before school, no subs were required for everyone to meet and share with one another. The importance of the goal setting and technology was made clear by dedicating an entire monthly staff meeting to this topic. Staff shared a wide variety of tools and techniques they had tried. I sat in on “dates” and heard teachers explain how they had used Schoology rubrics and GarageBand, Classkick and Peardeck. By hearing these short summaries, staff were able to learn about a wide variety of tools from others outside their department in a short period of time. Afterwards, there was a lot of positive feedback received regarding the event and the opportunity to share across departments.

Prior to the August teacher workshops, the technology coaches worked with administrators to create a building goal focused on technology integration. At the August "Tech Boot Camp" they asked teachers to be intentional, take appropriate risks, and model a learning/growth mindset with technology integration in classrooms. After the “date” concluded, teachers also spent time reflecting with a partner on this goal and talking about their progress. The teachers near me talked about the importance of trying something new with technology even if they weren’t confident in doing so and letting the students know up front that it was something new. This willingness and mindset among the teachers was great to hear, and is just what we hope all of our staff will believe when it comes to integrating technology in the future.

Much of the energy in the spring at high school focuses on AP and IB testing, the end of the school year and graduation. It can be easy to give in to the spring wind-down, and this was a great way to get teachers excited and geared up for the rest of the year. Having teachers leave a staff meeting energized and wanting to try something new in the next few weeks was a definite win!

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