Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Staff Development, Part Three

Final of Three Parts

In part one of this commentary I
characterized a typical teaching staff by their receptiveness and integration of new technologies: Pathfinders, Jumpstarts, Too Old / Too Lates, and Naysayers. The research I have down bears out this divisions as typical within any organization facing significant change. In part two I presented a proposal for moving from a scattershot approach to staff training to a more structured emersion in order to create a greater number of Pathfinders.

As Theodore Creighton asserts, "For any movement of change to . . . positively impact teaching and learning, a large number of faculty and staff must be involved in the movement." My school has reached this crossroads. In 2009-10 all students in the school will have immediate access to extremely powerful information gathering and networking tools throughout the school day. We have the opportunity to be in the vanguard of educational change. But a recalcitrant staff has the ability to undermine the best attempts at curricular change, marketing campaigns, and even retention of younger more technology savvy staff. I think all but the least resistant could be enlisted in a team effort to provide better resources for the entire school. After a modicum of training we could participate electronically in building these valuable projects without creating special meeting times and schedules. Staff would engage in the same kinds of collaboration experiences we wish to provide our students. And really, if the school is committed to the program, no one should be exempt throu
gh special pleading of being "too busy." I suggest that after we have reaseched tipping point of pathfinders (see part two) a set of interdepartmental projects be initiated. The possibilities are limitless:

* Creation of a virtual exhibition space for student performance / exhibitions.

* Create a virtual media center of video and podcast resource material collected from "experts" in the school and neighborhood community.

* Collect virtual museums of hyperlinks/videos/photos on subjects which cross departmen
t themes.

* Compile social bookmarks and Dyknow best practices for types of class (e.g., AP) or teaching styles.

* Build a directory of school blogs and blogging resources.

* Create 21st Century research guides and resources.

* Design independent study modules for students with unique interests or needs

* I read with interest "Well Connected Parents" in the 1/30/09. Washington Post. A 21st Century school should be interested in getting ahead of the curve with a social media design which includes parents.

As I reflected in
Tinker Toy Playland, educators must deconstruct old concepts of curricular subjects and units. The interdepartmental projects I suggest could advance meaningful dialogue about research, learning styles, and digital literacy as they apply in a world where Everything is Miscellaneous. Craig McLeod takes his IT blog title, from the following quote: "Our intelligence tends to produce technological and social change at a rate faster than our institutions and emotions can cope with. . . . We therefore find ourselves continually trying to accommodate new realities within inappropriate existing institutions, and trying to think about those new realities in traditional but sometimes dangerously irrelevant terms" (War: The Lethal Custom). With a relatively small investment in human resources a school could guide its stakeholders toward some to some extraordinary experiences.


"Bruno e Sandra com seus MacBooks Pro" Creative Commons Flickr Photo by Marco Gomes
Thank you, Theodore Creighton for reviewing the full document from which this post is adapted.

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