Research into running effective PD

As part of a paper I took on leading ICT in a school, I completed an action research project where I did a literature review around running effective ICT PD.

The following is a summary of my findings:

1. The biggest obstacle to teachers using technology in classrooms is adequate teacher training.
2. Teacher need chances to work on a skill with feedback from a skilled observer.
3. Well designed workshops:
  • offer depth and focus
  • provide adequate opportunities for practice and grappling with ideas
  • involve doing real work instead of being "talked at”
  • provide opportunities for consultation with colleagues and experts
  • make possible follow-up classroom consultation and coaching
4. One shot workshops have not been shown to be truly effective. Instead workshops need to be:
  • part of well-planned, ongoing professional development program that is tied to the school's curriculum goals
  • designed with built-in evaluation, and sustained by adequate financial and staff support
5. If sessions are led by a respected fellow teacher, participants are less likely to feel ‘put upon’ when doing volunteer workshops and teachers feel more comfortable working with them. Follow-up support is also easier.
6. Workshops work well if designed using the following steps:
  • survey needs of the staff
  • plan a series of workshops allowing time for staff to implement their learning in-between workshops
  • be aware of staff attitudes and work just as much on changing negative attitudes as building skills
  • ensure teachers see the value of the technology in relation to student achievement
  • ensure teachers see how to integrate the technology
  • make each workshop bite-sized and manageable
  • allow plenty of time in each session for hands-on experience
  • be aware that the participants are all individuals with individual needs
  • build in an evaluation of the workshop to monitor the effectiveness of the workshop
7. Some things to consider to follow when running a workshop are:
  • remember that individuals at the workshop are unique, with needs, interests, and experiences particular to them
  • never ever force individuals to participate in an activity in front of the group
  • talk to participants as adults rather than talking down to them as if they are children
  • be positive towards participants and their experiences
  • acknowledge the expertise and experience of the participants
  • remember that all the participants’ have their own personal needs
  • only share well organised and legible handouts
  • don't give participants something to read and then read it to them
  • stay within the scheduled timeframe
  • remember that you have an audience
  • enjoy the workshop - don't take it so seriously that everyone (including the facilitator) cannot have fun

8. To support individuals AFTER the workshop, you can:
  • have support available when needed either from you or from other staff members
  • provide teachers with support materials
  • expect teachers to use the skill within a short time

You can download a more in-depth write-up of this research including specific strategies I used as well as read ideas from others on the //facilitation strategies wiki.//

Teacher Inquiry
Teacher inquiry is a powerful way to conduct professional development. See the section below on this form of PD.