At a recent #TxEduChat, one of the questions asked was “How do school leaders go about equipping educators through professional development in a way that leads to authentic empowerment?” That’s a tremendously powerful question, so let’s explore how the strategic application of technology can lead to authentic empowerment.
Tip #1 – Amplify Teachers’ Voices in Campus Decisions
“You want me to be a member of the campus site-based committee?” I asked my principal. As a third-year teacher, I wasn’t looking forward to spending time sitting in after-school meetings. Yet in those meetings with my principal, I never felt like my voice was heard; rather, it was muted, too soft-spoken for meetings where few knew what would happen as a consequence of a decision. With mobile apps like Skype (10 Ways Teachers Motivate and Empower with Skype), Appear.in, and Voxer (read stories here of educational uses), campus leaders can create a no-cost virtual space to connect and quickly share ideas. In these spaces, quiet voices are amplified because, while the talkers may speak, the quiet educators can be heard in equal measure.
Tip #2 – Deepen Relationships
“Miguel,” asked the Athletic Director for the eleventh time since the start of the school year, “when is the FitnessGram data file going to be uploaded so we can conduct our assessments?” Unfortunately, the delay was that this program was in the midst of change. I accurately reported updates, if any, and followed up. When the information finally was released earlier, I was no longer employed in the district. But I made sure the Athletic Director had the information. We had started this journey together and it only made sense to finish it. Make the effort to be consistent, be predictable, share relevant resources that connect to people’s needs, and, by doing that, you build trust.
When we look at deepening relationships, we’re actually concerned with building trust. When we think of campus and/or district culture, we often think of the face-to-face interactions that people have in shared spaces. Having the right technology in place can help augment the positive connections that occur in those shared spaces. But deepening trust is really a person-to-person activity, isn’t it?
Tip #3 – Promote Quality Professional Development Opportunities
Looking for quality professional development? While there are many learning opportunities, including unconferences and #edcamps, YouTube videos, blogs, and just-in-time social media (e.g. Periscope, Voxer, Blab.im), you can always count on TCEA professional development learning and opportunities. From member-centric Lunch-n-Learn and Get Your Google On webinars, as well as a host of certification courses for 21st Century Administrators and Campus Technology Specialists, Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) courses, Chromebook and iPad academies, and IT Director courses in face-to-face and virtual spaces, TCEA has a lot to offer. You can find tons of resources online from TCEA’s directors of professional development, each of whom is committed to learning and sharing with and for you and is also a former educator. As an example, here is my collection of resources in a OneNote Notebook, TCEA Connect! (Aren’t OneNote Notebooks awesome?)
And you can join various Diigo groups that are focused on sharing great resources for all interested learners (not just members). For example, consider joining the 3D Printing Diigo group, which features a wide variety of resources for 3D printing. Or join the TCEA Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) group (and take advantage of upcoming training dates).
Authentic empowerment happens when you connect people together so they can collaborate with each other. Consider developing what Amy “@friedtechnology” Mayer suggests are individualized technology plans for teachers. These “ITPs” help close the learning gap.
And you know what? Everything shared in this blog entry can accelerate learning for teachers. If you accelerate teacher learning, you impact student learning. Isn’t that amazing? No, it’s TCEA amazing!