When I was in high school, and we completed interest surveys for future careers, I always came up with creative jobs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even draw a straight line, so I how could I envision a career that allowed me to have a creative outlet? Fast forward to 2017 and technology has opened up doors to do things that were once inconceivable. I can be creative with the many amazing tools at my fingertips. My favorite creative outlet comes from creating professional development resources for teachers. I love creating presentations, infographics, websites, and journeys to share my excitement for technology, teaching methods, for engaging students, and fostering creativity in others.
Last year, I took on a new role in my school as an integration specialist. My first task was to create a summer of professional development for my school. It was an incredible experience creating the presentations, gathering resources, and creating teaser videos for all of the topics. In all, there were eighteen different topics covered, with about 70 teachers accruing almost 500 PD hours in our district. This led to a year of growth across all grade levels for teachers. Teachers and students were trying things that they never tried before, from robotics to coding, to creating and communicating on a more global scale.
Presenting at conferences, workshops, and other area schools, allowed for tons of creating and exploring new resources. Each month our elementary teachers take a half day to meet and plan with our literacy coach and me on how to make their lessons more innovative and more engaging. They are creating amazing lessons that allow students to learn in their own way, and at their own pace. This has been a successful model and will be expanded to our high school next year.
This summer will be another opportunity for teachers to learn how to integrate technology into their classroom. Through summer sessions at school, local teacher center classes, and local conferences, teachers can spend time with me learning about twenty different topics to integrate into the classroom. What could be better than spending the summer creating, developing curriculum, and building toolkits that teachers can use when they head back to school?
When I’m looking at what to do for professional development, I often start with a simple survey on Google Forms. What do teachers want to learn and how do they want to shape their lessons are great starting points. From there it’s researching the best tools that will save time and offer an opportunity for growth. I’m a huge fan of Twitter for asking questions, searching hashtags, and gathering information, and taking courses with the EdTechTeam. I use this information to formulate slide decks on Google Slides and Buncee. Since teachers are not always available to attend my sessions, I like to use Recap Discover to build what they call Journeys. These are self-paced and offer some of the same resources I’ll use in the workshop.
Once the outline for the course is in place, I like to create small teaser videos to gain interest. Sometimes I let the Recap Journey be the teaser since it has a short video introduction in its setup, but other times I want a commercial of sorts that I’ll create on Biteable.com or on Adobe Spark. To advertise the course, I have an in house website for this summer, a PDF with links, and a bi-weekly newsletter to keep teachers up to date on the sessions. I always include a signup form so I can see where their interests lie. All of my trainings are capped at 20 participants, so if more than that sign up, I’ll start a wait list for a later session, or offer the Recap Journey as an alternative to attendance.
It’s very important after the session to send the participants a thank you for attending, a copy of the resources used, and a certificate of completion. Teachers are busy, and they took the time out of their day to spend at the workshop. These teachers are going to bring back the new tools to their classrooms, show others how to use them, and their students are going to blossom.
If I could go back and talk to my 17-year-old self, I’d tell her that there are many ways to be creative. The face of education is changing, the walls of the traditional classroom are being knocked down. It’s important to train teachers to embrace these changes in order to foster new learning opportunities for their students. Technology may be the vehicle that has burst open the doors, but it is through creative and timely professional development that we can harness these changes for the betterment of our students.