|By Real Change [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
I have to admit that taking this new path was not easy. Laurie (Friedrich) and I had constant discussions about setting clear expectations and providing support. We rejected a notion of formal point by point grading. Instead we embraced an atmosphere of acceptance and support. We were absolutely right, every participant in the class emerged as a true professional and found ways to surpass our expectations (and I am quite sure their own). In an era when teachers are devalued and de-professionalized our humble experiment showed (once again) that treating individuals with trust and professionalism leads to exceptional professional growth.
This group of teachers have put their trust in us and Laurie Friedrich and I did our best not to fail them as a group. This PD was not about grades or reaching some arbitrary standard, instead it was about each professional identifying a goal and working towards it. To be honest I think everyone, myself included, achieved more than we originally planned. Here are some excerpts from our teachers' blogs:
"Even though this class has only lasted a semester, I have learned a tremendous amount. I have pushed myself to try new things and through this process have found incorporating technology into my lessons as simple, fun, and best of all… engaging for my students! "
"I've learned to be a little more patient as I try to integrate technology into the curriculum. I'm still working to be OK with the "messiness" that comes with using new technology for the first time. No matter how much I prepare and try to anticipate glitches, new issues arise when we use an app or website for the first time. I can't let that stop me from trying new ways to enhance learning via technology."
"As I reflect over the course of the semester, I realized I have integrated more technology into my teaching than I ever have before. I now feel more comfortable trying out new technology resources with my students. Previously, I was too scared that the lesson would be a total flop or that my students would know more about computers than I do. As it turns out, I am knowledgeable, capable, and confident in teaching my students skills with the use of technology."
We included in the class graduate students who were not currently teaching. These students with varied classroom experience stepped into the breach and supported classroom teachers as they worked to integrate new literacies into the classroom. Carly is a graduate of our program who will get her first classroom next year wrote:
"This semester I learned so much about how I can integrate technology into a classroom. As I start my first teaching job in August in a third grade classroom, I am very eager to take many of the activities/ideas and the knowledge I learned and use them in my own classroom! I was very fortunate to be able to work with many great teachers this semester that have prepared me and shared many great things I can do in my classroom. I am very thankful for the teachers who invited me into their classrooms for me to observe and help out with the technology aspect of their lesson. From these opportunities, I gained confidence as a new educator."