Conduct needs assessments to inform the content and delivery of technology-related professional learning programs that result in a positive impact on student learning

For my needs assessment, I chose to investigate if working with an instructional technology coach had a positive impact on the work students and teacher were doing with technology in the classroom. I wanted to know if coaching appeared to move a classroom further along the SAMR scale. When I was working on the program evaluation for instructional technology coaching in my district it was hard to know what data would be useful for the evaluation. Then after I decided it would be good to have some additional data there were constraints like time and access to teachers and students that limited my ability to collect new data. Regardless of the constraints, the needs assessment that I conducted did help to reinforce the professional learning program that was in place in the district. In my initial investigations and meetings with managers looking for a program that would be useful to evaluate it was difficult to find an area of focus. The difficulty didn’t come from a lack of need, but from a lack experience and time to complete the program evaluation. In the future I think there are a number of programs that could benefit from a more formal evaluation. Some recent programs include our new science adoption and NGSS trainings, the district adoption of the code.org curriculum and the professional learning that accompanied it or the online professional development program offered by my department.

In my post Connecting PLCs to Local and Global PLNs I talk about how important it is to offer teachers a voice related to the professional development they will be engaged in throughout the year. Teachers want to share their needs and be offered professional development that is related to those needs. In my post I listed teacher surveys as a possible method for collecting their ideas, but now I don’t think that goes far enough. Learning from my time in different buildings this year, I think teachers need multiple options for input. Maybe one is a survey, but they can also choose to attend an in-person meeting at their school or respond in writing via email. For each school building this would be the start of a needs assessment in order to inform the professional learning programs for the year.

Currently teachers are able to provide input on technology related professional learning in my district through our instructional technology coaching model. After a professional learning session is completed staff are asked to provide feedback on that session and add topics that they are interested in learning about or using in the classroom. Those topics can then be presented as future professional learning. Currently this work is voluntary, meaning that teachers have to choose to attend. It works better at some schools than others. In the future, my department is going to offer paid professional learning sessions before or after school that will happen over multiple sessions. In order to best support teachers in our buildings we will first conduct a needs assessment with those schools and let them choose what the professional learning should focus on depending on their interests and learning needs.

For more information see my complete post Connecting PLCs to Local and Global PLNs or any of my posts tagged with professional development.

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