The most common questions that arise when staff are asked to change the way they teach is, "What does that mean?" or "What does that look like?" Those are extremely difficult questions to explain with words. Instead, it's something that has to be experienced to be understood. I can speak from first hand knowledge. I have always believed that it was important to incorporate technology into the teaching process and even felt pretty confident about my understanding of what that meant. However, I have been on a tremendous learning adventure over the last two years where the majority of my personal learning has occurred through the use of technology. It wasn't until this experience that I truly understood the role that technology could and should play in the educational process. It wasn't until I took on the role of learner through the use of technology that I really understood what changing the way we teach, or students learn, could really mean. What every administrator should be doing, instead of describing this change, is strongly encouraging their staff to experience learning the same way this new generation learns. Every teacher should not only have an iPad, they should be encouraged to use it for as many tasks as possible. This is different than using it with students or allowing their students to use it. Until teachers learn to manage their lives, pay their bills, use it to find life's answers and solve difficult problems, they will not understand how those outside of the educational arena are using these devices to manage their lives. When teachers understand how technology can enhance their learning experience, they will be more inclined to use technology to enhance their instruction.
The second benefit of a staff 1:1 iPad initiative is that it provides better learning opportunities for teachers just as it does for students. If we believe that our students can be more successful through fully incorporating technology into the learning process, then we should also believe that our staff could benefit from the same plethora of resources. School leaders have a responsibility to find a way to take advantage of these new learning possibilities and fully integrate them into the professional development plan for their teachers. It is for this reason that I would recommend we completely FLIP the way we plan for staff PD.
Every educator knows that the traditional staff meeting is antiquated and in many instances a frustrating waste of time. Most of the information provided in a traditional staff meeting can easily be accomplished through other means than requiring everyone to be in one location at the same time listening to a list of information. The time is rigid because we have it in the contract. Consequently, administrators are required to, "use it or lose it" and staff are required to attend and be compliant. Technology provides a vast array of resources to deliver this information more effectively to our staff, and the iPad is the best tool on the market for taking full advantage of these resources. Instead of requiring staff to attend a meeting at a set time so that both sides abide by the contract, let's harness the power of technology and allow them to be professional and obtain the information at the time that works best for them. There are countless resources a school could consider to assist with this task; Twitter, Edmodo, YouTube, TeacherTube, iTunesU, blogs, the list could go on and on. The reality is that there is more educational content and delivery methods available on-line than any army of teachers could ever discover.
Using Edmodo as a Platform for Flipping PD
It's time school administrators teach their staff the way they want to see their staff teach students. In order for this to occur, the traditional contractual driven model must change and staff must be provided with the best tools possible for their personal learning and growth. We owe it to our students to change the way we teach our teachers!
Fred Z. Sitkins
Elementary School Principal
Boyne City, MI