I planned, and ran, a really unsuccessful series of PD for a group of teachers this year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t wise enough to accept the non-success until we’d reached almost a breaking point in the group.
The idea was to focus on instructional methods with, or without, technology. The problem was that it wasn’t what the teachers needed (or wanted) and I was too stubborn to look past my own biases and fix the course.
Instruction makes the difference in schools. Teaching a poor lesson with an iPad in your hand is just as bad as teaching a poor lesson without an iPad. With most tech rollouts, all of the focus is on the technology PD and little time or thought is given to how to build lessons and experiences which seamlessly incorporate the available tech. So, this PD focused on watching one another teach. If the lesson had tech in it, great. Let’s look at what worked and then try to incorporate those principles in our own practice. If it didn’t have tech, still great! What worked? What skills did the teacher show that can be incorporated into our practice?
I didn’t clarify the difference. The PD was labelled (partially my fault, but not completely) as “technology PD.” Week after week, I came in talking about teaching and they expected technology tips and tricks.
Making it worse, I heard indirectly that these workshops were going poorly and that most people dreaded the sessions. I knew they were tough - I was pushing boundaries and comfort zones. What I didn’t know was that people felt confused and frustrated. I had no idea the group felt that way because no one told me - not on feedback surveys each month and not in person when I asked.
We’re so afraid of hurting one another’s feelings about teaching that we don’t talk about what’s really happening. That has to change.
Featured image old jumper cables inside an old barn, frisco, texas flickr photo by coltera shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license