Ask the Schoology Ambassadors: Share Your Experiences with Professional Development

Contributed By

Bridget Heaton

Social and Advocacy Manager

Ask the Schoology Ambassadors: Share Your Experiences with Professional Development

Posted in Community | March 21, 2016

Schoology Ambassadors are passionate, engaged, and knowledgeable leaders who are the voice of our community. In the Ask the Schoology Ambassadors blog series, we pose a question to the group that appeals to their collective expertise.

In this installment of "Ask the Schoology Ambassadors," we asked the Ambassadors to share their experiences with Professional Development in their school or district. Specifically, we asked:

  • How is Professional Development going in your school or district? How are you making it work?
  • What's worked well for you? What hasn't?
  • How do you engage everyone involved in PDгdifferent staff groups, leadership, even parents?
  • Have you created or shared materials that have been especially helpful?
     

Let's see what the Ambassadors had to share: 

Steven Knight | @plan3t_t3ch

Instructional Technology Coordinator
Falls Church City Public Schools, Virginia

Schoology and BigBueButton allow me to offer virtual trainings for the busy teacher. Teachers should be able to choose what types of PD delivery works best for them. Twice a month synchronous online professional learning opportunities are offered at 8pm-9pm. This is the second year of offering this type of PD (first year with BigBlueButton) and it is getting more popular. Not only do we meet live via BigBlueButton, but teachers that missed the live session have 7 days to view the recordings and/or view all the session's resources. I am working on creating 'at your pace' asynchronous courses that will be hosted in Schoology. These courses can be completed at anytime and will provide teachers another option for a PD delivery that can work for their schedules/lives. Our first course offering will be "Building your own PD with a PLN". Our #DigitalFCCPS Schoology course is becoming a go-to for all technology professional learning for all faculty.

Parents want to learn more about the resource that all their children talk about. I offer Parent University classes once a month for parents PreK-12 on all our technology services. The most attended offerings are always the ones focused on Schoology (sessions are offered 4 times a year). During these sessions, parents learn how their children are using Schoology. One of the parents' favorite options, is the Schoology mobile app. With it, parents can have conversations about the school day anywhere and anytime. Parents love Schoology because they feel more connected to what is happening at school.

Cristina Toflinski | @MrsToflinski

English Teacher
Northwood High School, Ohio

This year my admi_nistration has gone full-speed ahead with utilizing Schoology in assisting with our professional development. At the beginning of the school year, our staff was asked to join a Staff Professional Development course. This course started with an Opening Day Folder. This folder includes everything from bell schedules to phone extensions, the staff handbook, and fire and tornado drill information. I have found myself returning to this folder often, especially when it is time to write up ETR and PRO6 forms for my students with special needs. An additional folder with our principalкs weekly updates has been added, as well as a folder to archive information from each of our in-services.

Recently, our administration had us join a district PD course in correlation with the in-service we will have after Thanksgiving Break. In order to prepare us for the in-service, we were to answer a prompt provided by our administrators. The administrators ran the discussion like a class, asking questions and prompting the teachers for more information. Teachers have been urged to comment among themselves as well. In this format, we have been able to have an on-going discussion with all of our administrators, including our superintendent, as well as faculty from three different buildings. The discussion has brought about a lot of important topics that I hope to see addressed at the in-service. Our staff has shared thoughts, articles, and even a few resources throughout the discussion posts. Additionally, modeling how a discussion works within a Schoology course was also incredibly beneficial for all faculty to see and experience.

Additionally, our building leadership team uses a Schoology group for sharing information throughout the school year. Our administration is very __driven in terms of technology, and I believe that more online PD opportunities will be devised as we continue to utilize Schoology as our LMS.

Cory Klinge |@MrKlinge

Educational Technology Specialist
River Falls School District, Minnesota

What worked really well for us was a 3 phase plan. Here are the phases:

  1. Proficiency on district digital tools. (Attacked through workshops and a Schoology PD course)
  2. ISTE aligned purposeful integration training. (8 hour workshop)
  3. Ongoing coaching and support. (As it's written, this is ongoing).

I have built Google Apps courses, a Schoology 101/102 Course, an iPad Ninja Course, and a Purposeful Integration Course, and I am currently working on a course on gamification. We implemented a professional compensation plan 2 years ago, and that has helped us incentivize the PD. I use badges to reward course completion that staff can screenshot as CEU evidence for professional compensation.

Nichole Carter |@MrsCarterHLA

TOSA Innovation Strategist
Beaverton School District, Oregon

Providing engaging and helpful PD to parents was always successful when students were involved in the conversation. If you are in a school that is lucky enough to have a student tech program, they are the perfect group to discuss how technology is currently being used in the classroom and to answer any questions from parents. The time of the year is also something to consider, I always got more parent involvement at the beginning of the year.

Also, reaching out to parent community groups to help pull in the parents is an effective tool. Sometimes they will pass out flyers and promote the school activity, or they will also come back with suggestions on how to make it more approachable for that part of the community. For example going outside of the school and going to a community center, providing day care or food, etc.

I have consistently heard, in my new position, that teachers really want the ability to have conversations that are pertinent to them. By utilizing a whole school course in Schoology where an admin can give the staff professional development that is broken down by grade level, content, data teams, etc. we are able to make the conversation and outcome of the PD that much more meaningful.

Michael League |@mikeleague

Instructional Technology Specialist
Indian River School District, Delaware

One aspect of our professional learning that really seems to have taken hold is using Schoology to create and deliver professional learning experiences for teachers where they are participating in the platform as learners. We use Schoology to deliver aspects of all three years of our Comprehensive Introduction for New Teachers and for other topics including Next Gen Science Standards, Special Education, English Language Learners, flipped faculty meetings, Growth Mindset, etc.

The key for us has been that by having teachers use Schoology as learners, they get a first hand glimpse at the experience that their students will enjoy. It also provides us with opportunities to model blended learning pedagogy that we want our teachers to use. Professional learning courses often include individually assigned versions of assignments, opportunities for voice and choice, student completion rules, badges, and fast feedback cycles.

It seems like too often educational technology professional learning focuses too much on button clicking, and the end result is a lot of teachers using the technology as a substitute. By immersing teachers in rich, blended learning experiences (that aren't focused just on the button clicking), you can open teachers to the possibilities of a re-imagined learning experience for themselves and their students.

Catherine Gillner | @cgillni

Teacher
Fox Chapel Area School District, Pennsylvania

The biggest takeaway I learned from the professional blog is never to recreate the wheel. So many items are available on public resources that are very beneficial in teaching all of the features in Schoology. Looking through these resources they are perfect to provide professional development that is differentiated through interest and readiness.

Robert Schuetz | @robert_schuetz

Technology Coordinator
G.A. McElroy Administration Center, Palatine High School, Township HS District 211, Illinois

With respects to professional learning with Schoology, we have found significant benefit in embedding the training materials and resources in a Schoology course. We increase engagement by using polls in updates, and by creating discussions to "flip" portions of all-staff meetings. I typically create slide decks as training materials, but we are starting to use more screencast videos and podcasts.

Melissa Stanton | @apptasticteach

Intervention Specialist and iPad Teacher
Liberty Benton Middle School, Ohio

In my building, Professional development has yet to embrace using Schoology or allowing choice and freedom. Our last professional development day was different sessions on Google and Schoology, while I would have found it helpful, I was the one teaching the Schoology sessions.

There is very little involvement from the teachers and community on what is needed. Teachers often comment that they would love a PD session on a specific topic but this is not being conveyed to the people that plan them.

Knowing this about my district, I tend to find my professional development elsewhere. I go to tech conferences, I use Twitter to expand my PLN and to talk to others as to what is going on in their environments. In addition, I think it is just as important to have a conversation over lunch to get some new ideas.

Kellie Ady | @kellie80

District Instructional Technology Coordinator
Cherry Creek School District, Colorado

What I'd like to see more of is a focus on PD for the school administrator or district leader. I think we naturally focus attention on the teacher (as we should), but looking at Schoology from a leadership perspective is critical (IMO) to successful adoption that's sustainable. We've offered things in our district, but it's a challenge to get on their agendas. If I could do something over again, I think I would have pushed harder for admin PD sessions when we were in our first phase of implementation. We offered, but I don't know that we built enough urgency into the idea.

Something we did this year that has been helpful was a workshop for our EOPs (that's our support staff, office managers, and school secretaries). That's one entry point in working with school administrators because they rely heavily on support staff. The great thing was that the secretaries loved it so much they decided to keep using our course shell for their other workshops!

I think it would be beneficial to have targeted PD for different staff constituencies. We have great resources for teachers, and I'd love to see expanded materials for other staff members who support teachers. And, I'd also love to see something for folks who work at the system support level

 What are your experiences with Professional Development in your school or district? Do you have any tips or insights to share with the Schoology Community?

Schoology Ambassadors are passionate, engaged, and knowledgeable leaders who are the voice of our community. In the Ask the Schoology Ambassadors blog series, we pose a question to the group that appeals to their collective expertise. Join the conversation by offering your own ideas in the comments, or send us questions you would like us to ask the Ambassadors by emailing marketing@schoology.com.

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