Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Planning for Hybrid PD (part 2) - Develop Community and Supportive Environment

In my first posting, Planning for Hybrid PD - Comfort Level and Confidence First I shared my thoughts on how I planned to start a long-term hybrid Sketchpad professional development that is combining monthly face-to-face meetings with continued online learning and support. My first lesson was as follows:
Lesson One: Begin a professional development experience assessing the background skills of participants.Ensure they are given the necessary tools, starting points, and resources to feel comfortable with what they are going to be doing, see the purpose behind what they will be doing, and know where and how they can get continued support.
In my first face-to-face meetings, I did my best to follow Lesson One, assessing the needs, providing the necessary tools,etc. You can read more details about that in my reflection posts related to both the first and second face-to-face meetings (Day 1 and Day 2), as well as the first online unit. I am now planning for our second face-to-face meeting, taking into account the fact that participants have spent the last month learning online, which was a new experience for most.  Not only were they learning the software, but they were learning how to navigate the online course and components, interact asynchronously with others, and try Sketchpad with their students.

From my constant surveillance of and participation in the online course environment, I have gleaned that many participants are still uncomfortable with even the most basic skills of the software and also with participating in an online environment. They are indicating some frustration at learning on their own, and also a bit of trepidation about having to try an activity with their students.  There are also definite indications  several participants in the course are beginning to support each others efforts, offering help and ideas.This is what I think is a crucial component to foster in our next face-to-face - the idea that others in the course, whether face-to-face or online, are there to help, support, and provide guidance as they learn the software and how to integrate the software effectively into instruction.

My goal in the next face-to-face meeting is to provide time for everyone to share their online experience and frustrations, to share their experiences and student work from their first technology integration attempt, and to provide a collaborative environment for everyone to offer suggestions both on teaching strategies as well as online learning strategies.  I think spending the first part of our short face-to-face time together focusing on what worked, what didn't, and getting suggestions and ideas from peers,will allow for a deeper connection to form among participants that will carry over into the online environment. In addition, based on online discussion forum responses, I plan to model Sketchpad lessons both as a demonstration tool and as a pair-learning tool, again, to provide support in areas where concerns were expressed. This will communicate to participants that they are being listened to and allow for some personal interaction among participants as we continue to develop software and tech integration skills.

Lesson Two: Work on building a sense of community and support among participants, where they feel comfortable sharing their struggles, their experiences, their ideas and expertise. Providing a safe environment where it is okay to try new skills and strategies and knowing it is okay to fail or struggle and that others are going though similar experiences, gives teachers confidence to try to change and improve their own practices.

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