I think this article fits right in with our current discussions on professional development. Honestly I haven’t heard anyone in our district mention the implementation of “one-to-one computing,” but this article contends that it is coming to a school system near you very soon. The “one-to-one initiative” refers the idea of supplying computers for every student and teacher in an effort to bring teaching and learning practices into a workable model for the 21st century.
However, according to the article, “… talk of a one-to-one initiative in any district is premature unless schools and districts institute effective leadership practices and provide teachers and administrators with high-quality professional development.” This seems to be a recurring theme.
The article goes on to state that the following problems should be clearly addressed before even trying to implement such a program:
- What should teaching and learning look like across a district?
- What should communication look like within schools, between schools, and with outside stakeholders?
- How should teachers, administrators, and central office personnel collect and use student and school data to inform decision-making
- How might one-to-one computing enable steady progress toward those goals
According to the article, the key to achieving the goals of the one-to-one program is that professional development workshops must be thoroughly comprehensive, covering in detail every aspect of the curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Additionally, PD must be customized to meet the needs of teachers, administrators, and students. Technology should be used augment instruction. In other words, the curriculum must be decided upon and then technological resources should be decided upon for implementing the curriculum. Additionally, these goals should include both face-to-face and online learning activities.
This article is quite detailed in it suggestions for teaching teachers how to work with 21st century tools. Specific suggestions include training in basic laptop skills, program specific training, integration training, classroom coaching, and ongoing training. Even more particulars about how to develop the one-to-one program are included in the article, which I will not include in this blog for the sake of brevity.
An important point to note is that because behavioral changes are also part of the one-to-one initiative, development of the skills to cope with those changes must also be included in professional development activities.
Clarksville ISD, located in Red River County, Texas, is cited as an example of a school district where the one-to-one initiative is making a difference in the way students are learning. It is a rural county of nearly 14,000 residents of which one-third of those ages 25 and above did not graduate from high school and 17 percent of the entire population lives below the poverty line.
The plan that the leadership teams devised to implement the program is explained in practically complete detail in the article. One of the parts that stood out to me as especially important is found in this quote, “…Clarksville ISD provided ongoing professional development workshops and coaching to gradually build teachers’ skills and comfort levels with their new technologies, which included notebook computers, productivity software, email, online instructional resources, an academic search engine, and additional software programs. The district found that creating a plan to help teachers build from one skill to the next, rather than providing all the training at once, helped to reduce frustration and anxiety, particularly among teachers who were initially intimidated by technology.”
Apparently things are looking up for Clarksville because discipline referrals are down and attendance is up. Also, community participation in school events is up. Middle school math scores are up 43 percent. The county is continuing PD activities that emphasize aligning the curriculum as they go and making changes where necessary all the while implementing technological resources.
The article contains other examples of how professional development is being designed for specific school needs. A common thread among the different implementations is that it is treated as a work in progress that is often updated with many follow-up sessions to address areas that need attention. Another common and important thread among those who are experiencing success with the program is that those who are in charge of professional development are keeping themselves current and aware of how to be effective leaders.