Reflections on Technology Feedback Sessions

This week began technology feedback sessions in each of the district schools. This is the 2nd annual meeting. Each meeting is attended by the technology director, the instruction and curriculum director, and the ITRTs for the school. Staff come to each meeting on their planning periods. A list of questions has been created, and staff are free to share their thoughts and opinions related on anything to technology as well. All responses are tracked in spreadsheets for later analysis. This helps the district to address needs and consider the wants of staff as well in preparation for the next school year.

Monday started with the middle school, and my fellow ITRT and I attended these meetings throughout the day. The ones with this school tended to last an hour on average. Wednesday I went to the high school, and since I am the only ITRT there, I was really focused.

My biggest personal focus was on staff opinions on professional development- thoughts on this year, suggestions for next year, and then questioning them about the possibility of the tiered system I have been designing. I know that I will be implementing it 100% at the high school level, but I still need to talk about some things with the middle school principal before putting into place there.

The general consensus was that professional development this year was okay, and staff preferred the small once a month sessions during the school day to after school. I have already eliminated this for next year, so I wasn’t too concerned when it came to that bit of feedback. Set times were also a drawback, as some teachers had other obligations to attend to, such as IEP meetings. Suggestions were made to put together video professional development, and that if we have a day for professional development, do a broad overview session in the morning and let staff sign up for individual, personalized sessions in the afternoon. Someone was also curious about having a site where they could check out links to look at later.

When asked about the tiered system, there were positive responses to it. Staff liked the idea of personalized professional development, and they also liked the way that it was designed for different types of needs. When I introduced the highest level, which requires more research and is more open-ended, many were not open to it, but that’s okay because that level isn’t meant for everyone either. The variety of options were good, and staff have provided some ideas as to what I could use for topics in the future.

Based on suggestions, I am considering or am planning to do the following:

  • Video-based PD: This takes quite a bit of time to put together, especially if the materials are not already available online. I did tell staff that I would be happy to put the work together around a solo tech byte (Level 3) so that they would be using them. If I had to make a new video every so often, I would do common tools that many teachers already utilize.
  • Tech Byte Flexibility: Tech Bytes are the lowest level of the tiered system I have. They are 30 minute sessions that cover 1 or 2 objectives on a topic. I have planned to schedule different sessions a couple of times a month. I am now adding a piece where if staff cannot attend the scheduled tech bytes sessions during a month, they are free to sign up for solo sessions on those topics so that they receive the information when the timeframe best suits them.
  • Fluco Toolbox: I am considering adding this to my blog based on the request for a site with links to look at. I am going to revamp my blog over the summer, and add additional pages. Fluco Toolbox would provide those links. However, the links would go to a blog write-up on the tool so that staff can see some of the benefits of the tool, and what it is capable of. I’ve done this before with some tools before moving to this district and I think I’d like to start it again.

You may have noticed that professional development in our district still focuses on tools, rather than problem-solving. We do still have staff at this very low level and mindset, and it is something I am going to work on changing. I want to start making the shift away from tools, but first I want to have a system in place. Once I have had time to implement the system, I’m going to branch out. I know my first way of doing this will be picking “themes” for the tech bytes each month, such as assessing in a digital age.

We do have a little ways to go, and I am glad I can look to the districts that already implement problem-solving professional development for ideas and guidance. We will get there one day! This is not a forever thing; our district is just slower to move forward, but we WILL move forward.

I still have plenty to think about, and I need to work my new ideas into my professional development plan for next year. I feel inspired to work hard for my staff and do even more with professional development than was done this year. Hopefully next year’s technology feedback sessions will bring good things!

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