Professional development must be crafted to respond to a wide range of learner readiness, interest, learning style, and comfort level. Specific examples of techniques include providing many opportunities for reflection, conversation, and reading of professional materials. It is imperative to cultivate a nurturing learning environment where teachers can be mentors to each other, engaging in peer observation, collaborative planning, reflective assessment, all with the existence of on-site support. That being said, what are some of the best strategies for introducing teachers to new tools - and especially how these tools can enhance teaching and learning? Just to brainstorm a bit....
Weekly Workshops - Some technology coordinators conduct weekly workshops; Tech Tuesdays, Wacky Wednesdays.... The drawbacks of weekly workshops include the fact that teachers are so busy with what needs to get done, in addition to their home life, that afternoons might be tough for some.
eNewsletters - Teachers might enjoy reading a regular newsletter or blog post about current technology and specific examples of how students can use a tool to demonstrate what they've learned or communicate an idea or story. On the other hand, with all the information teachers are bombarded with, especially emails, how much more information without the benefit of face to face interaction would be too much?
Online group or webinar - Using some kind of social networking tool like Ning or Google Groups would allow for some degree of interaction. The ability to ask questions and get feedback is a real bonus and if screencasting and or handouts with step by step instructions can be included, many teachers might benefit from the learn at your own pace feature. However, if technology is already an obstacle, using technology to learn more technology might block out some learners.
I'll be exploring some strategies for reaching teachers and I hope that I can find a good balance of making good use of teachers' time and getting the information out in a way that compels them to act on what they've learned.