In education there is a lot said about the fact that the most important thing is the learners. This is something which I totally agree with, but at times, I feel that there is an oversight on that a focus needs to be on staff first to ensure they have the skills and support to make the learning and experience the best it can be!
I saw a question posed last week on a twitter chat about ‘what is the most important thing to consider when implementing technology into education’ and like always I said strategy. But this to me is not just about devices and when but actually a successful professional development strategy which has edtech running deep within it. I have always believed that no matter what you are trying to implement, without empowering your staff through support, training, guidance and mentoring at times and in ways which they want and need it will not work.
In my coming blogs, I will talk about the Google reference school/college programme but one thing I will say is that a lot of the work and successful implementation was around ensuring staff were comfortable with the tools and how they could use them to enhance the teaching, learning and assessment both inside and out of the classroom.
As a college, we try deliver a lot of training as well as mentoring staff in small groups or one to ones too. We have developed a programme of continual development which varies in what we offer, how we offer it and also when we actually offer it. We look at the days we are offering it on, when is best for the staff to attend, but also how they actually want to access the training whether it be in face to face sessions (which are still very popular) or through online mechanisms such as Google Hangout, Youtube live or Screencastify recordings.
Staff have to feel like they have the confidence to use the tool first and also someone to lean on if something goes wrong or they don’t get it right first time. The last thing they want is to feel like they know nothing when they go into class or that they are alone.
One of our biggest outlays at Leeds City College within the central teaching and learning and technology-enhanced learning team has been on recruiting and employing great staff who are there to support teachers and other staff with improving their teaching and also their use of tech.
Last summer I changed the staffing structure in the technology enhanced learning (TEL) team from traditional roles such as technologists to ones which I felt would help teachers more. The new roles are line with what we had already in the teaching and learning team and from this we created Advanced Practitioner roles with a specific focus on TEL. These staff work for me but are serviced in to teach in curriculum one day. I feel this is vitally important so they can invite others in to their classes and they also have the credibility of still being able to evidence that they use the tools in their current practice. They then spend the rest of their time delivering training and also mentoring other stuff around their use of edtech.
You need to ensure you empower your staff to empower the learners as a teacher who feels empowered will push their passion on to the learners and this can only lead to one thing and that is a great learner experience.
In last week’s blog, I talked about an openness to sharing too and one final thing I want to mention is that no matter where you are on your journey there are others out there willing to help. So with that in mind if you want to discuss, share best practice or come and visit Leeds City College, then please just ask.