I have just completed a cycle of professional development around unit planning and learning experience design that will shift instruction to be more inquiry and conceptually based as well as student-centered. To begin the cycle, I led an all-school pd session about conceptually understanding. From there I led three additional one hour all-staff sessions that walked staff through the phases of Understanding by Design (UBD). To complement these sessions I worked with department chairs to plan weekly department meetings in which teachers would collaboratively plan units and learning experiences using the UBD and International Baccalaureate (IB) frameworks.
My assessment of the success of these sessions is that some shifts have begun with some teachers but there is a reluctance from some to engage or change their practice, while others feel overwhelmed as many of our teachers teach three different courses or are receiving competing directives about test prep from the district. Additionally, I have learned from my focus groups that many teachers struggle with feeling like they cannot teach grade-level concepts when students have holes in their pre-requisite skills. Finally, I have not been able to present the integration of technology into these sessions in as meaningful a way as I had hoped.
Going forward, I hope to work with teachers in small-group sessions on planning. I will introduce the TPACK framework and use the conversations around technology, pedagogy and content to help teachers design learning experiences that are accessible, scaffolded, engaging, and conceptually based. I continue to reflect on how to make the process of implementing different pedagogical strategies and technologies into their repertoire easier for teachers. From personal experience, I know it can be hard to generate fresh ideas for learning experiences once the school year is in full swing with many demands on a teacher’s time. When I was a classroom teacher, I utilized a simple tool to help me plan learning experiences. I wrote one learning activity or strategy per notecard and then bound the notecards on a ring. I would refer to this collection while planning to inspire fresh ideas and help ensure that I utilized a variety of strategies and experiences in my practice. I feel a tool similar to this will help make using a variety of strategies and technologies much less burdensome for teachers. IN addition to planning individualized and small group planning sessions, I will also work to design a tool that randomly generates technological tools and pedagogical strategies to help inspire fresh ideas for teaching in a way that is easy to for teachers to use and understand.