Scott R. Laleman
How many times have you sat in a staff development session that you were required to go to, but felt that it was a complete waste of time? How often have you said "what does this have to do with what I teach?" Staff development, especially that dealing with technology, is often a 'one size fits all' type of training that may not apply or be interesting to everyone present. This site explores the effects of just-in-time training on teachers' use of techonlogy in the classroom.
Over the past several years, Lindop School in Broadview, Illinois has invested a large amount of money on updating the infrastructure (electric, networking, etc.) and purchasing machines (over 200 machines for 500 students), but very little time and money has been spent on staff development. Often, when time was given for technology staff development, kindergarten-5th grade teachers (or 6-8th grade and specialists) would attend the same sessions at the same time. This was very frustrating for both the teachers and the trainer because it is very hard to tailor instruction for such a wide variety of grade levels, not to mention the varying levels of comfort with the computers themselves.
Trainings were also held on the days before school started and sometimes on half days in the middle of the school year. After the inservice day, the teachers were left on their own to try integrating what they had learned, with little or no feedback. This created a problem because many teachers would forget what they had been taught, or if something didn't work right, they simply wouldn't try it again. Before the 2001-2002 school year, when teachers were given a PowerPoint session at the beginning of the year, many teachers were excited because they wanted to do a PowerPoint presentation to introduce themselves to their students or their parents. The idea of doing just in time training became something I was very interested in doing, but I didn't have the time between teaching the computer class, being the technology coordinator, and coaching.
While teaching in San Antonio, Texas during the 2000-2001 school year, the technology committe at my school (which I was a part of) offered classes to staff after school and on weekends, despite having classes available through the district. The theory was that teachers would rather take classes from their peers, people that they worked with, rather than someone they did not know. It was also mentioned by some teachers that they would rather take the classes in their own school instead of having to go downtown to take a class. This way, they could go back to their classroom and work on what they had learned immediately, and know that someone would be there to support them.
When I was given the opportunity to become full-time technology coordiantor starting in July 2002, the first thing I decided to change was the way technology training was done. The idea of giving teachers training that they wanted, when they wanted it, tailored to their level of understanding and subject(s) they taught was my main focus once we got our system and new machines working. Expanding on what had been done in San Antonio, I worked with teachers on an ongoing basis throughout the school year to tailor instruction to their needs, and comfort level.