Last week I attended the AssisTechKnow 2015 conference at Kent ISD in Grand Rapids, MI. It was one of the best conferences I’ve been to in a while. Educators coming together to discuss assistive technology, UDL and ways to increase engagement and learning in the classroom for all students. Chris Bugaj, MA CCC-SLP was the featured presenter and is a very engaging speaker. I walked away with a ton of ideas. Now the real work begins...
While I don’t have my own classroom, I do have students. My students are the teachers and staff! So how do I differentiate professional development? Teachers, just as our students, come to the table with different resources, skill sets and learning needs. Put them all in one room for the typical sit-n-get PD session and many walk away dissatisfied. Some jump at the opportunity to implement technology and can’t get enough of it. Others are overwhelmed after a tool share session or feel they just don’t know enough about it to implement it. There are teachers who need time to play around and get comfortable with a new tech tool, others that jump in with both feet and figure it out as they go or some who are willing to let the students be the leaders. Either way, all need some type of support and PD. Below are some great ideas thanks to Chris Bugaj’s presentation “Multiple Means of Professional Development.”
Email PD - How do your automatic replies read? The typical is “I’ll be out of the office attending [insert conference or activity here] from [date leaving] to [date returning]. I will be checking email as I am able…” and you sign it with your name, phone #, etc. What if you also added links to your online help resources, how-to videos and step-by-step guides? Often the emails you get are about the same topics so give them the answer in your auto-reply and/or your email signature! Teachers can use this tip as well and include links to their Moodle pages or Google Classroom in their signatures.
PD DVDs - Most of our staff have Internet access at home but, just like our students, there are those that either live in a rural area without access to high speed Internet or have chosen not to have that expense. So, all of those how-to video guides that you so dutifully loaded onto your online space are not available for those teachers. No problem! Burn the videos to DVDs and create a checkout system. Call it PDFlix or [Mascot]Box to steal from some big names. Include a short assessment so that when the teacher returns the video they can submit their assessment and receive credit for their self-directed PD.
These are just two of the plethora of ideas that were shared. As Chris stated “Be an Experience Designer!” and take into consideration the resources and skills your students, or teachers, bring to the task. Thanks to the Kent ISD Assistive Technology staff, the KVO and KTC students, Chris Bugaj and all that made this a very worthwhile conference!