This week has been all about professional development for me. I actually taught a professional development session on blogging to teachers in the school where I am student teaching on Friday! After that experience, I am even more interested in creating the type of self-directed online learning modules utilized at PLCMC and by Kristin in her old school. Teachers are difficult to manage as students! But I also think that so many of these Web 2.0/tech tools that can be great for teaching and learning purposes can be best learned through exploration and discovery of how the tools can best fit one’s goals. Allowing professionals to decide what they want to learn about and then to learn at their own paces and on their own schedules seems like a great way to validate them as professionals and to differentiate.
I love that (at least some) schools and public libraries are taking on the responsibility of providing professional development in technology areas. The people working in schools and public libraries are not “digital natives” and may have varying levels of comfort with technology. It struck me recently what a challenge it can be in schools where teaching staff belong to entirely different generations from their students. Teachers are expected to prepare students for a world that is yet to be, while many teachers are still struggling to adapt to the world that is right now. The library profession includes its fair share of Luddites, but librarians are supposed to be leaders in information and technology. We definitely need ongoing professional development to meet the demands of our professions.
The Semadeni article seemed like the odd one out in this week’s batch of readings since it addresses face-to-face professional development that is not necessarily related to technology. I wonder what non-SLM students got out of this one, seeing as the world of teacher professional development may be a foreign one. I did not find the concept of providing professional development during the normal school day hours to be particularly novel; in the two districts where I have student taught, professional development and team planning often took place on teacher in-service days or during the school day through the utilization of substitute teachers in order to release teachers for planning/PD. If attendance at PD sessions held before or after school is low, or if teachers are not at their best at those times of day, having PD during the hours they have to be at work seems like a reasonable solution. I do wonder how financially struggling schools (i.e. those that cannot afford to pay for substitute teachers so often) could implement something like Lincoln County Schools, not to mention the difficulty of providing stipends (like Lincoln County) or prizes (like PLCMC) for participating in PD if budget shortages are cutting into essentials. Of course, as Semadeni quoted in his article, “‘More can be done to improve education by improving the effectiveness of teachers than by any other single factor’” (p. 69), so maybe this is the best possible use of a school district’s money.
Last week’s webinars were, essentially, online professional development sessions. Even though I was nervous about giving a webinar and even though we had some technical issues at the beginning, I found the webinar experience extremely rewarding. Thank you to everyone who attended ours and for all your participation in the chat! The chat and other interactive features really helped me feel connected to the participants and reassured me that the participants were engaged and thinking about what we were sharing. I was worried that I feel like I was talking at a screen and wouldn’t be able to tell if I was reaching anyone without being able to observe body language, etc., but that didn’t end up being an issue.
In giving the webinar, Brett and I took turns speaking and monitoring the chat. Fortunately this didn’t end up being too complicated (though at times it felt like musical chairs). It surprised me how similar giving a webinar was to giving a normal, live presentation. We still couldn’t really consult with each other during the presentation because everyone could hear us, we couldn’t pause because we had a live audience, and we still had to make sure that we held everyone’s attention and communicated clearly and effectively. The whole experience supported the idea that the value of a tool really depends on how you use it—being online didn’t automatically make our presentation better or worse than if we had given it in front of the class. We just had to work with the capabilities of the tool we had to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, taking advantage of the additional benefits of webinars and mediating the challenges that come with distance learning.
Admittedly, I totally forgot that we were to attend other webinars until the day before we gave ours. I was really upset to realize that I missed a few that I was interested in, so I’m glad they’re archived! It would have been helpful to attend at least one webinar before giving one because I learned a lot from being a student that I would have liked to apply as a teacher. For instance, I didn’t realize that there is a sort of laser-pointer tool you can use to point to parts of your slides since participants can’t see where your mouse is tracking. And that it probably isn’t advisable to start your recording well before starting your webinar (as we did) because then the archived version has a whole bunch of blank minutes of recording…. But now I know for next time.
The webinars I attended addressed copyright/Creative Commons, online access as a civil right, open access resources, and accessibility/ADA guidelines. I learned a lot! The copyright session ended up being immediately applicable with the students I teach and I was able to share all sorts of great information about Creative Commons licensing and permissions with 7th graders working on creating problem/solution projects on the topic of bullying using various Web 2.0 tools. I had already taught 6th graders some basic Creative Commons and copyright information, but after the webinar I felt far better informed and prepared. Thanks, Andrea, Katie, Heather, and Nikki!!
Andrea, Katie J., Heather N., and Nikki P. Copy, Right? Sharing Your Work Through Creative Commons Licensing. 11 Apr. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. <http://www.elluminate.com/trial/m.go?mk=tFBXkE6o1GevaYfM>
Blowers, Helene and Lori Reed. “The C’s of Our Sea Change: Plans for Training Staff, from Core Competencies to Learning 2.0.” Computers in Libraries 27.2 (2007): 10-15.
Fontichiaro, Kristin. “Planning an Online Professional Development Module.” School Library Media Activities Monthly 25.2 (2008): 30-31.
K., Amanda, Kayla L., and Joanna P. Open Access: Less Money, Less Problems. 11 Apr. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. <https://sas.elluminate.com/p. jnlp?psid=2011-04-11.1412.M. 7124EAB9FE3952B29DCDC730A67A6A .vcr&sid=cm090828>
R., Eden, Emily M., Jill M., and Kristel W. Welcoming All Patrons! Creating an Accessible and Comfortable Environment in Your Public Library. 11 Apr. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. <https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/jwsdetect/playback.jnlp?psid=2011-04-11.1104.M.34DF2A4D3F9AF4F3155429EB3440A5.vcr&sid=cm090828>
Semadeni, Joseph. “When Teachers Drive Their Learning.” Educational Leadership 67.8 (2010): 66-69.
T., Emily, Emily S., Josh M. and Susan S. Is Access a Civil Right? 11 Apr. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2011.<http://www.elluminate.com/trial/m.go?mk=cjye62Zo6jx8Lfyu>