Monday, May 24, 2010

PLN Online Course

I have just completed an online course, Developing and Growing Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) for School Leaders through ETLO for SETDA. My PLN has grown as a result of participation in this course due to exposure to other professionals across the country and to uses of Web 2.0 tools for professional networking. I am looking forward to incorporating additional networking opportunities for the administrators in the program I administer as a result of participating in this course. I see how PLNs can simplify the communication process, but know that there is some groundwork to do with the administrators I service to get them up to speed.

My goal is to get a LSTS PLN going with my Cohort III group.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In Tough Times, Don't Forget the PD and Rethink the Use of Web 2.0 Tools

Everywhere I look it's the doom and gloom of Reduction in Force, or RIF. School districts are scaling back and eliminating things that are non-essential. A word of caution when it comes to professional development (hereafter called PD), make sure whatever PD remains in your budget is focused on effectiveness, efficiency, or teacher need.

In tight times, tempers flare and patience is often in short supply. The last thing you want to do is hold professional development that does not have meaning to the people involved. Districts will still receive funds to provide PD. Make sure the offered PD serves as a resource for either evaluation identified teacher needs or school improvement plan identified school needs. Now would be a great time to consider Web 2.0 PD, and a reevaluation of district policies governing the use of Web 2.0 tools. Phasing in Web 2.0 tools could be part of district cost cutting measures.

For example, some districts and school purchase lesson plan software to allow for monitoring by school administrators and collaboration across grade level or content teams. Instead of paying licensing fees for this type of software, consider using Google Docs a a free vehicle to accomplish the same goal. Recruit someone proficient in Google Docs to conduct some hands on workshop sessions where a file structure and sharing is set up during the session, and it's ready to use when the participants leave. Also make sure administrators receive training to allow them to quickly begin monitoring plans and providing feedback. This is an example of cost effective PD that increases employee productivity and collaboration.

Just remember, PD can be a morale booster and employee benefit in economically challenged times.