We had our first professional development day this year, and I have to say I am very excited about how it went. This year our school is piloting a one-to-one laptop initiative, and while I am super excited about getting those laptops into our student's hands, not everyone is. We have a few teachers who are pretty anxious about the whole thing, but our ET (technology teacher) is AH-mazing, and got the ball rolling early. The computers won't get here until January, so we have some time to get some PD in before the day arrives.
We spent the morning discussing in teams and departments logistical issues and curriculum issues. There are a lot of schools that have implemented one-to-one laptop programs, but there is surprisingly little information on the how-to involved. We often feel like we are making this up as we go. There were a lot of good discussions in our teams and departments, which then translated into a good discussion as a faculty. Almost all of the concerns we had were answered, and the few that weren't are going to be looked into.
In the afternoon we had a variety of different sessions we could choose between, and they were awesome! I think everyone I talked to learned something new and cool - and almost everything was presented by someone who teaches at our school! I learned about a new software program called Netsupport where you can control all of your student's computers from your computer, or just monitor their work or basically whatever you want to do. Can you imagine how awesome that is going to be when every student in your class is going to have their own laptop? Now, I can look at everyone's screen at once and send messages to students who are off task or who need help. I think that alone alleviated a LOT of concerns about classroom management. You can also turn off all the student's monitors just by clicking a button so they can't continue to work when you need to give directions, and about a hundred other awesome things.
Another session I went to was with the SmartBoard. I used a SmartBoard in Virginia almost daily, but wasn't able to use mine here until this year. I had seriously forgotten a LOT! Another math teacher in our school was presenting on it, and she seriously knows her stuff! It was awesome! I relearned a few tricks, and learned some new ones that I'm excited to try out. In fact, after this session I immediately went back to my room and reworked my lesson for tomorrow so that I'm using the SmartBoard to introduce adding integers. It was also very entertaining listening to some of the teachers who had never used a SmartBoard get super excited about all of the cool things she was teaching us how to do.
I feel like too often professional development is a waste of time where we aren't learning anything that we can take back to our classrooms and implement. A lot of times PD become discussions on theory and best practices - but without any ideas on how to implement those best practices. I loved that today I learned something that I can use tomorrow - this is how PD should be.