Developing a professional development plan to support teachers use of technology in their classrooms
Written by Cait Heinz, a Tierney Professional Development team member
As the 2020/2021 school is wrapping up, school leaders are looking to next year. Planning for workshop weeks is well underway, but this next school year brings new reflections from a difficult year teaching through a pandemic. Last school year teachers needed to quickly learn how to reframe their classrooms to teach remotely or in a hybrid learning environment. Technology and how teachers are implementing it in their classrooms has changed and so does the professional development they receive. The purpose and delivery method for technology professional development needs to be timely, personally relevant, and include time for teachers to implement new skills they learn.
Technology related professional development has never been timelier than it is now. Teachers were given a short window of time last year to quickly shift their classrooms to remote learning. For many teachers there was a steep learning curve to learn many new technology programs necessary for lesson and content delivery.
When looking to provide timely professional development to teachers, they “must be an integral part of the planning process when it comes to developing and delivering professional development,” (Curtain). Bringing teachers into the planning process will support their learning goals and what they need most to be successful for the upcoming school year.
Teachers need to differentiate in their classrooms, so why is that not the practice when providing teachers with technology related professional development. To better meet the needs of the varying degree of ability and interest level in technology topics, professional development can be designed to allow for teacher choice. According to Malcolm Knowles’ Andragogy in Action, “Adult learners are motivated when they are presented with personally relevant and applicable content.”
In person whole group instruction has an integral place to ensure that all teachers receive the same content, however to ensure that teachers walk away feeling confident and comfortable utilizing the technology, professional development needs to allow for teacher choice in topics as well as comfortability levels with the technology. Consider taking one technology tool, for instance Google Classroom, and create sessions to meet the needs of beginner, intermediate and advanced users. Teachers new to the tool will have additional support to learn a new tool and advanced teachers can collaborate to create engaging content for their students.
To further customize technology professional development consider providing asynchronous or blended content for teachers to learn at their own pace. Asynchronous or blended professional development lends itself to teacher choice in what they are wanting to learn more about. Curating video content can provide teachers a library of on demand lessons where they are able to choose lessons that are most relevant to them.
Time for implementation
Time is a precious commodity for teachers and it is a necessary component when teachers are learning a new piece of technology. In order to ensure teachers feel confident in utilizing the technology in their classrooms, teachers must be able to use the new skills they’ve gained right away.
A great way to ensure teachers walk away from a technology professional development feeling confident, is to ensure they have time during the training to create, collaborate or play with the new technology tool. Sarah Thomas, a regional technology coordinator for Prince George’s County, Maryland says that “having the participants create something that they can leave with and use tomorrow” creates a meaningful training where teachers have time to practice and implement the tool into their classrooms.
In addition to providing time during a training for teachers to practice new skills, time needs to be built in throughout the school year. Building in monthly webinars to keep teachers up to date on the updates to technology tools, providing weekly tech tips, mentoring or coaching cohorts are a few ways time can be built into the school year without having to ask teachers to learn on their own time.
Tierney Professional Development
Tierney's professional development team is composed of former educators who are passionate about ensuring teachers are supported with integration of technology. In order to meet the needs of educators Trox + Tierney works with schools to develop effective professional development to support teachers' use of technology tools in their classrooms. We offer remote, face to face, or self-paced options for choosing the best delivery method for teachers
Our number one goal is to ensure that professional development is timely, personally relevant, and includes hands-on practice so teachers walk away feeling confident in utilizing new skills in the classroom.
About the author
Cait Heinz is a member of the Trox +Tierney professional development team. Cait began teaching in 2009 as a high school Spanish teacher in St. Paul, MN. Throughout her teaching career Cait worked with teachers to support their integration of technology into their classrooms. After classroom teaching she later moved to an administrative role overseeing the curriculum, instruction and professional development at her building. Cait has been with Tienrey for a year and half providing engaging professional development for teachers across the country.
Gonzalez, Jennifer. Making a Case for ‘Timely, Purposeful, Progressive’ PD. Education Week, 6 December 2017, Accessed 10 June 2021.
Curtain, Brian. How to Plan Outstanding Tech Training for Your Teachers.” Cult of Pedagogy, 2016. Accessed 10 June 2021.
Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.