Recently I facilitated a conversation with a third of the staff about what it is they need from school based administration and district level administration to help with the implementation of the Inspiring Education initiative. As we worked through the questions I was reluctant to add my voice as I really wanted to hear what the staff had to say without being influenced by what I said.
I am well into my second year as an assistant principal and thought I was doing a good job helping the staff move forward with technology integration and introducing them to new tools that they could hopefully use in the classroom. I just returned from Google Apps for Education Summit which I have attended that last two years along with various other technology conferences. I thought that if I presented to the staff upon my return and showed them everything I had learned, they would be excited and go try them.
Some did and were quick to let me know what they were doing and excited for me to come to their class and see their students in action. My immediate thought was “I am making a difference.”
However, I realized quickly during my conversation with staff about what they needed that what I was doing is adding additional stress onto some very good educators. They were feeling overwhelmed and anxious because felt they were not doing a good enough job integrating technology into their lessons. All my presentations and talks were just piling more and more things onto their plate that they thought they had to master.
I left with an understanding that while they wanted to be introduced to new ideas and technology what they really needed was time to work and collaborate with each other about how to use and integrate it into their individual classrooms. Rather than show them many tools, what they wanted was for me to present a concept or idea and help find a tool/tools that could help them. The idea of collaborative time kept coming up time and time again, rather than schedule all of our professional development day give us time to work together and we will produce great things.
Teachers want ideas and are open to finding new and exciting ways to engage their students but they need quality time to plan and prepare with other educators. Professional development days are precious valuable hours and I think sometimes we try to pack to much information into them, rather than relying on the teachers to use the time to better themselves.