Is It Possible To Have Self Directed PD?

I've been pondering a rethink of the ICT training and development opportunities that I might provide my staff in 2006. Part of my role description here at my school calls for me to provide T&D to improve skills and confidence for my onsite colleagues. So in previous years, I've run courses on FrontPage, digital cameras, saving files to our network, trouble shooting where I've designed a step by step approach with handouts, examples, personal support and explicit demonstration. Has it improved the overall skill set of our staff? I'm not convinced. For example, my FrontPage course started with 10 participants which dropped to 8 the following week when a couple of junior primary teachers couldn't see the relevance of designing web pages for them. A few more dropped out halfway through when they acquired the basic skills they were after and eventually two continued to the bitter end. One staff member moaned that I responded to the loudest voices when they wanted help, some others wanted handouts with step by step instructions and a couple needed to start from the beginning of every session. Clearly, the one size fits all model doesn't work with learners, especially adults who have their definite preferred learning style and who, like kids, all have different levels of confidence, experience and expertise. So, inspired by my own experiences in the edublogosphere and Leigh Blackall's concept of Networked Learning, I am trying to draw up a plan that would guide my interested staff members towards self directed professional development. It's still embryonic so naturally I'm gonna put what I've got here and if anyone [please!] wants to give me feedback/suggestions/ridicule, I'm all ears. Here goes:

2006 LNPS Staff ICT Personalised Learning Program
Proposal for regular T&D opportunities on Tuesday afternoons.
Rationale: We are in the business of lifelong learning - developing this in ourselves will help us to facilitate this mindset in our students. ICT and e-learning have developed to the stage where we can personalise our learning experiences - new technologies are constantly providing us with better ways of connecting to others, documenting our own practice and developing our own content.
The IWB program needs to be supported with a regular time set aside for (1) the practice and use of the IWB, (2) planning and designing of own resources and lessons, (3) finding, reviewing and bookmarking of relevant/useful online resources, (4) professional reading and connection and (5) personal professional reflection.
Teachers may also wish to develop other skills related to specific software applications (desktop and online) by accessing online tutorials and courses to work through. The goal is for teachers to become self-directed, self-paced "just in time" learners, so that they can acquire ICT knowledge and skills from multiple sources and modes of instructions.
In my role as Coordinator, I would assist teachers to put together a Personalised Learning Program (as the guide on the side). Each week, a limited number of slots would be available for closer personal assistance while other staff would work in a more independent mode, using each other and a network of outside educators developed over time via social software (bookmarking, blogs, forums). Time spent would be documented and count towards DECS professional development hours requirement.

 Does it even make sense? Any suggestions? Help!!!!

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7 thoughts on “Is It Possible To Have Self Directed PD?

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    Teacher in Development :: Is It Possible To Have Self Directed PD? :: February :: 2006

  3. Al Upton

    Thanks Graham, I’m enjoying reading your well considered approaches to some of those challenges that confront us.
    The key word here seems to be ‘time. Certainly document out of hours time spent so staff can get their 37.5 hours and get the last week ‘off’. More importantly we need to seek support at local and systemic level to provide release time for professional learning. A variety of models exist including termly/yearly half and whole day release. Accountability and collegiate support could occur with like minded learning teams/pairs/small groups. A coordinator could be part of such a team to facilitate self directed learning and/or roster in periodic times to ensure continuity of
    goals/support/site&department directions etc
    Leaders need to look to leaders, need to look to their leaders, need to look to those of us at the grass roots level – and we all need to look to the kids.

  4. Artichoke

    Sounds potentially powerful Graeme,

    Worked in a school a few years back that ran ICT _PD slots in the holidays and after school called “A course with no name” – the teachers signed up and their “just in time” needs determined the content of the sessions offered.

    Difficult if you never get too many signing up at once, and you get too many diverse demands BUT in reality much commonality developed and then as happens in classrooms because they’d all come with different needs it seemed OK when teachers started showing other teachers how to do stuff whilst the facilitator was busy – learning hub/networks established

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  6. Aaron

    Hi Graham,

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. It’s really a timely one for me as I am in the middle of trying to develop a PD program that well…is in alignment with how I really feel about PD – that it should be done by me not to me, because I want to, not because I have to.

    It’s so much easier said than done isn’t it?

    I for one really think your approach is a good one. I think it’s respectful in that you are approaching the teachers where they are, and if I understand your proposal correctly, you wish to go where they wish to go.

    I really liked your idea of having open slots for teachers to come in and work on what they have issues around.

    I’ve been following this approach in 2006 – an experiment – and just this week our first real “As you wish and if you wish” PD session was held around web 2.0 and blogging in the ESL classroom.

    Instead of having the session be a “have to attend” thing, we made it totally optional, with a few perks for those who decide to go.

    Our attendance has been pretty low – a little less than half of our teaching team has signed up. But I’m really excited about that. The reason: the ones who come are there because they WANT to be there. They have interest in thinking/talking/learning about blogging and web 2.0.

    The result was interesting. Everyone in our first session left it feeling inspired to try it on their own. Thismorning I saw a few of them and they were still talking about it, and how cool it was.

    I don’t know what will happen after this. Will they start blogging on their own, and in the classroom? I think that’s up to them. My goal, I think, was pretty much accomplished. I wanted to stir up curiosity. I wanted to tell the “blogging story” and what it could enable in the classroom. I wanted a “that’s cool!” response. I got it.

    I really think you’re on the right track, and I would really love to follow how your program develops.

    Aaron Nelson

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