Early Release Tech Training

In my district, we have early release every other Wednesday to provide teachers some time for professional development. Over the years we have used this time for a variety of topics, but this year we are really trying to regularly use it for technology training.

Like a classroom of students, my faculty members are all working at different levels in their technology learning journey. It's important to differentiate their instruction and offer options for them to move in the direction they are most interested in, so the first step in preparing for this training was a survey.
I took the survey results to our leadership team meeting and we decided on these topics for training:

Excel 101 - How to sort data and view reports.
Web 2.0 - What is it? Cool tools to use.
Voicethread - What is it? How to use it.
Wikis - What is a wiki? How do you add to our school wikis?
Blogging 201 - I have a blog, how do I add gadgets and photos?
Document Camera 101 - How to use it, how to snap photos with it.
Email 101 - Adding a signature to your email, folders in Microsoft Outlook.
Breaking up into SEVEN groups would not be possible without my tech savvy leadership colleagues. Thank you: Suzanne, Rick, Melissa, Debbie, Jessica, KK and Susan. After looking at the training needs we simply let everyone offer to lead a session they felt comfortable running. We asked one classroom teacher to join in when we needed an extra hand. Each group had no more than 15 attendees.
Have you tried to do break out training at your school? I'd love to hear other session suggestions or models of in-school training sessions. We felt like ours was so successful that we're offering it again so people can choose different sessions this time!


Suzanne said...

I think the faculty really enjoys choosing their training topic. The small group structure offers ample time for interaction, questions, and practice. Thanks, Mel for making it possible.

I really admire your school. It seems like you have a committed staff and a community of learners.
How many are on your faculty?

I have been trying to find a way to have useful technology sessions at my school...for almost 3 years now! I can't say I have been successful, but I don't think it's all my fault either. I think that for pd to be successful, everyone must be committed to learning. I actually had a teacher say to me, "I am already tech savvy. There is nothing I can learn from you." I was disappointed to hear that type of attitude from a teacher, but I think it says so much, way beyond technology. Is that person comfortable being a "guide on the side" in the classroom or do they always have to be the "sage on the stage?"

Anyway, one thing I've started this year is a monthly teacher tech club. I think it sounds like what you are doing at your school except that we only have one offering. It has been popular so far (after only 2 sessions) with those who are less fluent w/tech. What I am having a hard time with, and admittedly, it is not AS important right now, is getting those who consider themselves to be good with tech to take the time to still try to learn something new or to teach and share what they know. They are not willing to spend the time.

We have over 90 on our faculty. And although I do think the majority of the teachers enjoy this type of training...it is mandatory training time. I think if you have a core group of even a few teachers following your lead and trying new things - you are a success. You have to celebrate what you HAVE accomplished. Don't let the turkeys get you down!