Our First EdTech Bootcamp
As the Team Technology Leaders (TTL) at our site, myself and my co-TTL provide professional development to support teachers in using technology in their classroom. Over the last couple of years, we have had the opportunity to lead trainings within staff meetings, send weekly Ed-Tech tips, and support teachers through our “technology support” days. Although all of these have been great professional development opportunities, we started noticing that there was a lack of interest and attendance in our teachers for these professional development opportunities.
During our “technology support” days, our principal would get subs for myself and my co-TTL, as well as roving subs for teachers to attend. The teachers would sign up and come visit us during their prep period and/or a time slot in which they had signed up. During this window of time, the teachers could ask for any technology help that they needed. Although this was not a bad approach, we started losing interest quickly because teachers did not know where they needed support. During our last “technology support” day, we only had 4-5 teachers show up for the entire day.
I have to admit that I found myself getting very discouraged. I struggled with the idea that other teachers were not as interested in these opportunities as I had hoped. Then I thought…What if I am not providing the learning opportunities that would be meaningful to each teacher?
With technology changing so rapidly and a diverse set of learners, I have always felt that it can be a struggle to create professional development that is meaningful for each teacher. So, I found myself thinking about some of the most beneficial professional development that I have attended. I thought about what I would like to see if I was sitting in the place of the teachers.
My conclusion…It’s all about choice.
What is the best way to get complete buy-in from your teachers for professional development? Give them a choice on what they can attend and when they can attend it. It’s a very popular strategy in classrooms right now – so, why are we not doing the same for our teachers? Around this time, I had the opportunity to attend and present at a couple of EdTech Team Summits and I loved the ability to choose what sessions I wanted to attend based upon my own needs. I found myself thinking…Why don’t we do something like this at our site?
This is where the idea of our “EdTech Bootcamp” was formed.
Currently, our school site is on an 8-Period block schedule, so we created 8 sessions for teachers to attend (see below). These sessions ranged from beginner sessions, such as Google Drawings, to advanced sessions, such as flipping the classroom. Our principal set up five substitutes for the day – two for the TTL’s and 3 roving subs for other teachers. Teachers were able to sign up for at least one sub and could also attend during their prep period. As we released the schedule and sign up for the teachers, we immediately saw that there was greater interest when the teachers had the choice to attend sessions that interested them. Instead of reaching only 4-5 teachers, myself and my co-TTL were able to train over 15 teachers on our site in different educational technology tools and strategies. It was a huge increase and the feedback that we received was very positive.
Click on the picture below to view all the sessions that the teachers were able to attend during our EdTech Bootcamp:
Although I had hoped for a greater turnout, I was so excited about the turnout and positive feedback that we received from these teachers. It told us that we were on the right track with our professional development plan for technology. However, as always, I tried to find some ways that I could improve it for the next time.
Four Ideas for Next Time
1.) Create longer sessions for certain topics.
A few of the sessions that we created needed more time, particularly our more advanced sessions such as Flipped Learning and HyperDocs. The teachers really enjoyed these sessions but mentioned that they would have enjoyed more time to create an entire lesson. Next time, it might be a good idea to do less sessions so that some of the sessions could be over two periods, rather than just one.
2.) Find ways to reach more staff members.
Although I was very excited about our turnout, I had still hoped for more teachers to attend from our 40+ teaching staff. It’s a great start but I am trying to brainstorm ways to reach more staff members and to create interest in attending these session. Part of me is hoping that the positive feedback from those who attended will be shared with their departments which will encourage more teachers to join. If not, I believe that this is one of my greatest areas to reflect upon over this summer.
3.) Create a session (or two!) for our administrators, counselors, and classified staff.
Why do we always forget that educational technology extends past the classroom? Our administrators, counselors, and classified staff could also benefit from a technology training that is aimed towards tools that they could use in their jobs. The possibilities with this are endless and I look forward to exploring this option more in the future.
4.) Badgify It!
Creating and earning badges for professional development is becoming a big thing right now. A couple of our teachers and coaches in our district mentioned this on Twitter the other day and I cannot wait to see where they take this idea. I think it would be very interesting to “badgify” our professional development. Would it encourage teachers to participate by having something to earn? Would they become competitive at earning badges? Honestly, I have no idea but I do think it is something to brainstorm and consider for future professional development.
A lot of these are ideas and questions that I have for our next EdTech Bootcamp. If you have any ideas/answers that come to mind and you know of some ways that can better support teachers, leave some comments below. I love hearing from other teachers about the amazing things they are doing at their sites!