When Tulare Joint Union High School District (Calif.) was preparing to deploy one-to-one Chromebooks a few years ago, the amount of professional development and training needed for educators was overwhelming.
“Teachers have a lot on their plates, and they often felt like the technology coaches were just adding more to their plates,” said Denise Douglas, the district’s educational technology coordinator, in a March 16 session at the Spring CUE 2018 conference.
— Meghan Cortez (@megbcortez) March 16, 2018
In order to make sure educators were getting the professional learning experiences they needed, Douglas and her team went through several steps to create more flexible (and fun) PD.
1. Remove Silos Around Training
In addition to technology coaches, Tulare also has coaches in areas such as literacy and 21st-century learning, Douglas said. This means that educators receive a variety of training experiences from numerous sources.
To cut down on the time that educators were out of the classroom for training, Douglas said that all of the coaches got together to develop a cohesive strategy for professional learning that blends in technology seamlessly.
2. Create One Unified Instructional Vision
During this meeting, Douglas said that the coaches also collaborated on an instructional mission for the teachers in the district. Tulare’s mission is to actively engage students in critical thinking and problem-solving with the assistance of technology.
“We want to engage every student in meaningful work every day,” said Douglas.
3. Find a PD Option Teachers Want to Do
In order to meet this vision, Douglas said Tulare needed to find an option for professional development that was easy for teachers to engage in. Switching to gamified PD through a partnership with game-based learning company Alludo was a no-brainer.
Douglas explained that the gamified training was designed to be a quick microlearning experience where teachers can do one 5-to-10-minute exercise at a time. Not only was it convenient, but the competitive nature of the game incentivized teachers to complete more training.
4. Collaborate to Design Well-Rounded PD
To design the games with their instructional vision, Douglas said the coaches from the district collaborated to create levels and lessons that are scaffolded for teachers based on their familiarity with each topic.
Using Google Docs and Sheets, the coaches with expertise in specific topics worked together to create the activities, blending topics such as literacy with technology.
5. Continue to Support and Celebrate Teachers
Though the online gamified version of PD is convenient and fun, Douglas said the district isn’t doing away with its traditional approaches, but rather augmenting face-to-face training with the flexible online component.
By using an online component of PD, Douglas and her team are able to give positive feedback immediately on each teacher’s progress in the training and issue badges and achievements.
In addition to this, Douglas said she makes sure she celebrates the top performing teachers with prizes and a video sent out to staff.
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