The following guest post was written by Sarah Meltzer, author of the new Eye On Education title Step-by-Step Professional Development in Technology. Read below for a tip for school leaders on including your faculty in the planning stage of incorporating technology into professional development.
Have you noticed that your classrooms have technology that is not being used to support instruction? Are computers being used as bookends? Are teachers assigning computers for "free time" and "rewards" only? Are interactive whiteboards being used as bulletin boards? Consider planning and implementing professional development to help support and encourage your teachers to use the technology to enhance student learning. A Needs Assessment Survey will help give you feedback as to what is needed. In addition, it will let teachers know their needs are being considered. Ask for help from interested faculty to develop the survey questions so you collect the information you need. Forming a committee or lead group to develop the survey will not take a great deal of time. More heads are better than one and the survey should be short (one page if possible). This will encourage teachers to complete it. Depending on your school and the habits of the faculty, distributing a paper copy may be the best way to get them to respond. Including a candy bar attached to the survey in their mailboxes will also get their attention – chocolate always motivates me!
When you develop your survey, be sure to think about the information you need to collect. If you need to know if your teachers need help learning particular software, ask them about their comfort level and whether they would like to go to training. Ask them to be specific as to what they need. Do not offer what you aren't able to provide; however, give them options of what can be provided and ask for other suggestions. For example, ask them if they would like to come to training on Saturday, after school, during a planning period or on a planning day. Also, give them a place to offer other suggestions. These questions will not only provide you with what they might be willing to do, but it will also allow teachers to be involved and understand their schedules are trying to be accommodated. This is important to help build a positive learning community.
Share your creative ideas as to how you have encouraged your faculty to become involved in a technology project.