|Assessment and Goal setting||
|Review and Reload||
The first step of an ICT professional development program is the selection of a planning team. The responsibility of this team is to analyze a range of data and determine in what direction the school should head with its professional development program. The team should be drawn from a range of staff including administrators, board members, staff with technical knowledge and also those teachers without. Having a techno-phobic member of this planning team will assist in keeping the goals and vision within the reach of most staff. There is no point having a group of high ability users setting ambitious goals when in reality the staff will not be capable. The head of school is an integral part of this planning team and needs to drive the entire process. This person provides the leadership for the team and the process and keeps everyone motivated and on task.
The focus of this plan should be on how the professional development will improve student learning and student achievement. The data should include the needs of the school, the ability of the staff (for example by using a self evaluation similar to the CEO Forum’s (1999) STaR chart), and student data including achievement scores. The entire process needs to have a school wide focus – from the Chairperson of the School Board to the support staff and students.
Goal Setting and Assessment
After analyzing the initial data the planning team should have an accurate picture of where the school is. From this picture the team should determine what aspect of student learning the school should focus on for the professional development program. The team should develop the goals and then present them to the wider school community (staff, students and parents) to gauge whether these goals are appropriate for the school. Important in this component is determining which set of data can be used for ongoing evaluation to see if the professional development program has made a significant impact. The planning team needs to remember that the goal should achieve noticeable and significant change. The goal also needs to be measurable to enable ongoing evaluation of whether the program is meeting the stated goal. It may be that existing data is not sufficient so new methods of assessment may need to be developed.
Important in the part of the process is to attempt to get most of the staff on board with the proposed program. If the school improvement plan only has drive and enthusiasm from a small section of the staff it will not likely succeed. It is inevitable that not all staff will support the plan and some will leave the school because of it. This factor must be taken into account when the person responsible for recruiting staff selects and employs new staff members.
Once the team has gathered support for the goals, it is time to develop a plan that will achieve these goals. Current research should be investigated and evaluated. The international school could also investigate neighboring schools, both national and international, to uncover any possible local solutions. This plan should also include a technology plan to ensure that adequate infrastructure is in place to achieve the stated goals. There is no point have the goal that 80% of the student population will participate in an on-line learning environment if the school only has two networked computer labs with no network access in the classrooms. The resources aren’t in place to achieve the goal.
Once the plan has been developed the planning team needs to determine who will provide the professional support required. As the literature points out, often the best people can be found right inside the school. It is difficult for international schools to seek professional staff developers given their placement outside of national education systems. Researchers agree with this method of generating ‘experts’ in house: “Change takes root when grown from local seeds planted by those who know the soil, the sky and the prevailing winds. Programs and strategies grown elsewhere usually flounder and founder”(McKenzie, 1999:117)
Now the needs have been analyzed, a plan produced and the people to implement the plan have been identified it is time to get the entire staff actively involved in the project. As identified in the section on adult learning, the school should offer a range of options for the teacher to choose from. These should include individualized action research, study teams, workshop type courses and peer coaching. The literature suggests that a peer-coaching model is particularly effective (for example, Joyce & Showers, 2002). The delivery should be implemented in such a way so that the development program is embedded with in the teacher’s working day. It becomes part of their day just like teaching Grade 11 English, or Year 3 Art would appear on their timetable. As outlined previously, if the program is left simply to out of school course the school will not be able to generate the same momentum and continuing enthusiasm from staff.
Review and Reload
In this step the program is evaluated. As mentioned previously in the planning stage, a set of data should be identified that will be used for ongoing evaluation. The review period will depend on what the program aims to achieve. In most cases it makes sense that this review takes place yearly as most school already have review process in place for other aspects of the school function such as timetabling and staff recruitment. The school should be prepared to change aspects of the program based on this data so that the program can evolve and adjust to new ideas and changing circumstances.
It is unlikely there will be projects that are able to maintain drive and momentum for a faculty for long periods of time. Reload implies how the plan should continually adjust to keep improving or an entirely new plan should be developed altogether. The plan must be proactive rather than reactive.
Source – Professional Development and Information and Communication Technology: An Investigation into an International Schooling Context. Andrew Corney. A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for Post Graduate Diploma in Arts at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand Date: October 19, 2004