This morning I had a great discussion with the director of the IB Primary Years Program at my school. We talked about my role for next year, and what ways I could help his staff become more comfortable using technology. My title for next year is "Learning specialist: Technology" which is pretty broadly defined, and I have the luxury of writing my job description. I may never again get this kind of opportunity to define my own role, so I’m making sure I do it right by involving the primary stake-holders in the process.
First, we both agreed that my role would be primarily helping teachers learn about the appropriate use of technology in their classrooms, and less about teaching students directly. This would take the form of 1 on 1 instruction with the teacher, small group discussion, co-teaching topics, demoing lessons for teachers, but probably not as much whole faculty instruction. We both agreed, whole faculty instruction is of limited use: really staff need to all have a direct need for whatever you are presenting for this type of instruction to be effective.
Another exciting aspect of my job next year will be observing teachers. This may mean I offer pointers on ways they can improve their use of technology, or I may just give positive reinforcement for when lessons are obviously working well. I will do a lot of observations in the beginning of the year so I can gather information about what is working well already for teachers, and where there are areas which could be improved. I’ve observed a lot of my colleagues teach (I used to make a practice of watching everyone in my large math department teach), perhaps more than most teachers with my experience, but having this process be more formalized is exciting for me. It means a move into a more administrative role. One thing that the director and I both agreed on is that my observations would never be used for punitive measures or for evaluating teachers, only for helping teachers grow professionally.
A great idea that the director had was helping teachers build action research goals for the following year. Essentially this would look like teachers setting goals individually, or with consultation with me, and then helping the teacher plan their way through the meeting of the goal. This could take an entire school year, or it could be completed within a few months. During the year, I would be available as a mentor, or as a training resource as necessary. What is important about this process to me is that it puts the teachers in charge of their learning in this area, and it is the kind of training which is sustainable.
One of the ways we are going to support goal setting is by having teachers complete a self-assessment form for their use and understanding of technology. Our self-assessment is planned to focus on use in the classroom, as well as administrative use outside of the classroom. Part of the form I plan to have them fill out will include will include some specific goals for the teachers to work toward. This form will be submitted as part of our end of year staff meetings, and then we can revisit the personal goals of the teachers at the beginning of the year. Here is a sample of the self-assessment form, which is still a work in progress. This way we can start the year with some positive action the teachers can take, and hopefully focus each teacher’s learning on what they want to work on.
I’m excited about next year: it promises to be a learning experience for myself and for our school.