New Year’s Learning Resolution – Great Way to Engage Teachers

One of the things that has weighed on me with the new Tech Director position in Bethel is trying to figure out how to support all our staff (K-12) with coaching, professional learning, and support for learning through technology.

Much of my time this year has been taken with working with Michelle and James, our two technicians, to take over the work of Everything Just Works, especially the pieces the previous tech director did himself. The teachers in the district have not had a tech integrator to date, despite having had 1to1 devices for their students for years. They are thirsty for learning more about how to leverage their technology in the classroom.

And I’m thirsty to start working with them more directly, and am just about at the point where I can start getting into classrooms, and inviting teachers to work with me. But I worry about having a broader reach. Granted, we’re a small district (about 750 students K-12, and about 80 classroom teachers), but I still manage all the tech and tech projects in the district and manage the Tech Team, so I’m guessing I have a little more than half time to work as a tech integrator.

The question on my mind has been, “How can I reach more teachers across the district than simply collaborating with a handful?”

Saco’s New Year’s Resolution Professional Learning OpportunityThen my colleague, Alice Lee, who is doing graduate work in learning through technology, shared with me a professional learning opportunity one of her classmates had created. Wendy Cannon is a PreK-2 Technology Coach in the Saco Schools (ME). She created the New Year’s Resolution PD Website for her teachers, with the message: “As we begin the new year, let’s commit to learning together!” (PLEASE NOTE: There is a RSVP link on the home page, but the New Year’s Resolution is only open to teachers from Saco.)

Wendy has created a bite-sized approach to professional learning for each month, January through May. It included topics such as the 4Cs of 21st Century Learning, student reflection, formative assessment, and podcasts as professional learning.

What I really like about her project is that each month provides some excellent resources, a new strategy to try out, time in a face-to-face session to share what they’ve done and to be introduced to new approaches. Each topic is an powerful strategy for the classroom, but broad enough that any teacher (any grade level or subject area) can apply it to her own context. In other words, it is personalized to each teacher who participates.

I also love that, although the topics are rich, each piece is right-sized for busy teachers with even a modicum of interest to find the time to participate. It’s sized so that it is easy for teachers to say “yes!” to participating.

In short, this appears to be an approach that would help me reach many of my own teachers, maximizing my reach, while using my time efficiently.

So, of course, it’s now time for me to make my own SAD 44 New Year’s Learning Resolution. I’m sure it will look very much like Wendy’s (in terms of topics and plan), but I will tailor it to our district.

And, of course, I’ll be sure to share what I come up with, and how I plan to implement it in our district.