Thursday, November 12, 2009

Prove it BEFORE it's Approved!

I attended the ISTE Eduverse talk last night titled "All Technology Uses are NOT Created Equal: Accelerating High-Yielding Practices" with Bernajean Porter.  The information presented is near and dear to my heart and was shared in such a great way that I am excited to share it with everyone around me.  One of the things that Bernajean mentioned during her interview was that when teachers are being trained, they need to learn the new technology, then figure out how to apply it to the curriculum, and finally implement it in the classroom.  Bernajean emphasized that trainers should ask teachers to do all of this before awarding any continuing education credits (or whatever they may be called in your area). 

I thought about this for a long time.  This very topic has been in my head for a while now but hadn't really heard anyone else talk about it, specifically in a public forum.  I totally agree with her thinking in that it would promote true technology integration on behalf of the teachers.  I also believe that it would improve me as an instructor because I would have to force myself to see more things going on in the classroom.  This would be a huge time committment for me to not only work one-on-one with many teachers but to also review and approve the works they create in order to receive credit.  The benefits, however, that come from this type of training/assessment are too good to pass up.

Another thought I had was that the credit they receive could be much higher.  For example, now I give 1 hour credit for each of my sessions.  I'd be willing to award double or triple credit depending on the topic because of the work, brain power and creativity going into the workshop on behalf of the teacher. On the other hand...I can see a possible attendance decrease due to the difficulty level for many teachers. Or would I?  Quite possibly, after a few workshops like this, teachers might see an improvement in the quality of the workshops and be more likely to attend.

I will be sharing the information from this talk with my principal and district technology leaders over the next few days.  I will also be asking permission to try this method with a few of my workshops this year.  I think testing it with a few perfectly selected workshops would be a good way to implement this program. 
Please take a look at the eduverse video and share it with those around you.  There is a lot of other good content in the program besides this topic that I feel everyone could benefit from in their schools.


  1. I talked to my principal about this topic this morning. Happy to say she' wants to require all teachers to follow this plan for at least two workshops in the spring semester. We're still working out the details and making sure we can actually do that, but I was glad to see that she saw as much benefit and need that I did!

  2. I'm glad I found this post. It think it's a game changer and wonder if the implementing before getting credit approach is used by anyone else out in the PD business.

    The really neat thing is that given the internet getting suggestions, in general about "what to do" is not really a value add by professional trainers. It's all out there for free if you want to look. The real problem is that very few have the incentive to go look.

    Implementing a new approach in the classroom is something else again. That needs an experienced professional who knows how to anticipate and craft solutions for the inevitable problems that come up.

    My bet is that many teachers will beg off. My principals will jump on this. The reality is that the number of innovative teachers are always relatively small. But to make real changes in a school, you're much better off with 5 who implement, than 30 who show up and move on.

    My bet is that as the early adopters demonstrate that it works in their classroom, it moves from being used by early adopters to a scale.

    Good luck.

  3. Good thoughts and I'll have to catch up with that video soon!

    We had a really good conversation about this last week here:

    I really think training needs to be more small group and content focused. This goes right along with the PLC model. Then modeling, coteaching, and observing follows along.

  4. Thank you "clickable print" for your comments. I totally agree with you in that there will be few that totally appreciate this, use it and grow from it, but I also believe that you have to start somewhere. If those five that truly embrace it in hte beginning spread their excitement to five more, then we have a good thing going.

  5. Steve, your thoughts are appreciated. I truly believe that this idea falls directly in line with the 21st century skills we're trying to teach our students and the PLC model we're implementing in our district this year.
    I feel lucky that my principal sees the connection and will be working with me to implement this. We have to check with a few higher ups before doing it, but I can't imagine it would be a problem.

  6. Julie, this is fantastic! People don't really learn until they use it in a setting that is relevant to themselves. As a parent I really appreciate the challenges my sons' teachers face who struggle with inconsistent adoption and application of technology combined with the difficult of individualizing tech to each student. Positive reinforcement, proactive help, and giving teachers a real reason to try it (postponed credit) seems ideal, even though I'm sure it could quickly exhaust the TF. ;)

  7. Yes, Rob, we'll see how exhaustive it will be on the TF. Sounds like another post in the coming months!