Groups of 3 were given a steep task: create the winning bid that will convince school leaders of their credibility in IT, their understanding of the blended learning needs of the schools, and their resourcefulness with the budget.
Source: Hogwarts Academy IT bid
We concluded the final presentations, and amidst the haze of access points, tablet types, and software requirements, an unanticipated theme emerged: teacher “me time” with technology is a necessity. In nearly every pitch, students articulated that, in order for their model to function most effectively, it is critical that teachers stay current (or in some cases get caught up) with how their students and the IT administrators are using technology.
I borrowed the term “me time” from a group’s recommendation for a daily hour of uninterrupted student exploration time, but I think it carries over nicely to teacher technology PD, considering it is almost always a self-diagnosed area for growth.
Imagine an entire hour each day to tinker, research, and create with EdSurge’s latest recommendations, open education resources, the productivity apps on your desktop, and the gadgets students are sneaking into school. We’d have a lot less teachers saying, “I’m not a technology person” and instead more that appreciate the value that technology can bring to instruction. At the very least, educators would be in a better position to acquire technology skills and to make informed suggestions on technology purchasing decisions related to their classrooms.
There is a distinction here between “me time” and the more traditional planning period:
Planning period = Get-as-much-teaching-related-things-done-as-possible time
Edtech “me time” = A daily window to focus on self-improvement without the distraction of runny noses, parent calls, grading, or copy machine battles.
I (and even the students) recognize that dedicating another full hour of the school day to personal growth is a huge investment, but also one that could yield an enormous return for student achievement.
Of course the only way to know for sure is to try it. Since shuffling up the master schedule is unlikely this late in the year, see if you can commit 15 minutes of your planning period each day to focus on edtech study. I would love to hear the results!
About Our Guest Blogger
Miguel Davis is a consultant with Macro Connect, an IT and professional development service provider serving schools and businesses in and around Metro Detroit. He was previously a secondary mathematics teacher and technology integrationist in rural Mississippi through Teach for America. You can reach Miguel here.