TechnoThursdays and PD

Darren Draper, my hero, posted a great thought about Professional Development. He runs a great program called OpenPD. He just finished his third session, and reflected about it. I suggest you read it to fully understand my comments here. Darren asks these questions:
  1. How do we transform OpenPD so as to attract the kinds of teachers that aren’t the most technologically savvy?
  2. How do we garner the participation of additional groups of teachers? Sure, individual participation from wherever you may be is fantastic, but a class of multiple classes would be ideal.
  3. What can be done to provide OpenPD participants with local district credit - enabling additional rewards other than the intrinsic?
  4. Considering question 3, are such extrinsic rewards really needed or would they only taint the enthusiasm for such an endeavor?
@Clay, How can you say RSS is dead? You just said the other day that this is too new! Perhaps RSS is dead to you, but that doesn't mean it is dead to others.

Darren and Sarah: Teachers and any other professionals hate PD because it is PD. As my professor this last semester said about a hundred times as she lectured us with the same style of PowerPoint without letting us interact, "The days of a one-stop-dog-and-pony-show Professional Development are over!" When we tried to participate in that discussion, she ignored us and lectured more about the need for collaboration in adult education. (Pardon me, I got distracted by hypocrisy.)

If we call it PD, people are going to hate it without knowing anything about it.

Also, I have mentioned numerous times that if you want OpenPD to attract normal (non techy) teachers, we need satellite groups of teachers to start inviting other teachers at their school to participate in technology sessions or experiences. My TechnoThursdays has only been successful because they are developing professionally and they don't even know it. It is not even that successful, there are only 4 or 5 people that show up each time. But if you think about all the middle schools in our district doing that, that is nearly a hundred people participating in professional development while enjoying it and not knowing that they are being duped! But it is not about duping them, it is about creating a safe environment for teachers to explore technology and learn new tricks. If they can learn about it at a safe place, they can feel more comfortable trying it out on their own.

In addition, we might have some better success if we are not focusing on the bleeding edge of technology. This goes back to Clay's idea that RSS is dead. Maybe since it is dead, some teachers will start using it. Maybe we should look at teaching them how to properly use Excel or their grading programs or some other type of software. My biggest takeaway from TechnoThursdays is that I need to teach relevant topics, and go s-l-o-w. This should be part of any PD.

TechnoThursdays went so well today because we talked about a way to specifically integrate technology into their different subject areas in a way that made their lives easier and more productive. That is what gets them coming back.

Have a Good Life.


    Hey J,

    I agree with your close. My mantra this year, the fruit of fruitless evangelizing in PD workshops, is similar to what you say: "Without a need, a tool is useless." Most teachers (and students) don't feel the need for this stuff. Until they do, they're not going to want to spend energy figuring it out.

    Be there when they Need tech, and give them the tool? You're golden then.

    (Re: your opening @Clay, I already replied on Darren's blog :) )

    Clay, Thanks for your comment, I got your reply on Darren's post.

    Hey Jethro, It was nice to see you too. Thanks for the commnet. Glad to see your cute family!