NYSAIS – Moving from Professional Development to Professional Learning and Collaboration

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of attending the first annual meeting of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) Council for Professional Learning and Community (CPLC).  The meeting was coined Think Tank 2011.  This group consists of members of all of the conference committees and institutes that NYSAIS organizes each year.  The conferences include, Diversity personnel, Heads of School, Division Directors and Assistant Heads, Technologists and Librarians, Development and Alumni personnel, Early Childhood directors, as well as a number of Institutes: New Teacher, Experienced Teachers, New Division Heads, and New and Emerging Leaders.  NYSAIS also offers many one day professional growth opportunities throughout the year.

The framing idea of Think Thank 2011 was “What Would Google Do?” a book by Jeff Jarvis from 2009.  That theme helped this group think about how to be in the place where the professional development and help facilitate conversations and continuous growth, while being open and helping people navigate all of the offerings of professional growth available to them.

The change I noticed in the conversations these school leaders were having was the shift from professional development to professional learning.  It was a wise person who coined the title Commission for Professional Learning and Community for this group.  Instead of just thinking of the one shot professional development day, this group was thinking about how to create supports for the continued learning and development of each faculty and staff member at NYSAIS Schools.  This was a powerful shift for this group to be making. 

To go along with this movement towards continuous growth and learning was the launch of the NYSAIS Community, a site developed to support the learning and continuous growth of faculty and staff at NYSAIS.  The site uses a NING back end and was developed over the last year by arvind grover, Barbara Swanson, Josie Holford, George Swain, and Marcy Mann, and me.  We dreamed up the site in June of 2010 during the first NYSAIS Think Tank.

I am excited about the movement of professional growth with NYSAIS and I can see that it will be better poised to support the growth and development of stronger teachers, staff, and administrators.  Thanks to Mark Lauria, Barbara Swanson and Lois Bailey for their leadership of NYSAIS and organizing this event. 

What organizations do you know of that are leading the way toward better learning for teachers?

Photo Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/joiseyshowaa/1400175456

Projects for the Year…

I’ve been back to work for a week and many of our faculty will be back next week.  My staff has been hard at work all summer setting up new machines and reimaging old ones.  We’ve rolled out 50 new desktop computers in two computer labs and classrooms.  We are in the process of rolling out 30 new faculty laptops and servicing the other 40 that are already deployed to faculty.  This includes service packs, an Outlook upgrade, and SmartNotebook 10.  As we do these laptop upgrades, we’re requiring faculty to participate in a 30-45 minute training session when they pick up their laptops.  During this training session, we’re reviewing basic laptop maintenance, spending a few minutes training the faculty on Outlook, and making sure our backup script works. 

In addition to the nuts and bolts above here are some of the projects that I’m working on for the school year (Thanks to Jim Heynderickx for the inspiration here):

Outlook Training: During the first month of outlookschool we have to make sure to provide enough support to faculty, staff and students so we can complete our transition from FirstClass to Outlook.  So far, so good as our transition over the summer was completed with only a few minor issues and with a positive reaction from the community.  Change is hard, so I don’t expect that September will be a cake walk, but with appropriate communication and preemptive training and support, we’ll be in a good place in October. 

Continued Professional Development including New Faculty and moodle Student Orientation,  Collegiate Connect (our SIS and communication hub for school constituents), Gradebook, Smartboards, and Moodle.  This is a big one. 

  • New Faculty Orientation is a big one as we need to bring our faculty in, show them what we have to offer and how to find resources about technology at the school.  Luckily, we have two one hour sessions with the new faculty this year and that will allow us to do a nuts and bolts session: file sharing, printing, Outlook email, and Collegiate Connect (SIS).  The second session will be a technology scavenger hunt that our Academic Dean and Lower School Assistant Head are putting together.  This is going to be a fun exercise to see if new faculty can use the training and FAQ material we’ve posted on our department web site to get the scavenger hunt done. 
  • New Student Orientation includes much of the above, plus a heavy dose of Acceptable Use in 20 minutes.  Any ideas? 
  • Collegiate Connect training is usually done in conjunction with division meetings as it consists of specific administrative responsibilities of the faculty in each division.    We’re creating lots of documentation in the form of FAQs on our Technology web site for this.
  • Gradebook, Smartboard and Moodle training.  None of these tools smartboardare  required so we’ll be providing as needed support on them in September and then rolling each out via targeted monthly themes with professional development and communication with the faculty during those periods. 

 

Powerful Learning Practice — This is very exciting.  Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson are running this professional development program for five of our faculty/administrators.  Here’s how they describe it:

Powerful Learning Practice offers a unique opportunity for educators to participate in a long-term, job-embedded professional development program that immerses them in 21st Century learning environments.

Day one of this is September 8th.  I’m psyched. 

Website Upgrade — Yes, we’re upgrading our web site.  This collaborative process has taken longer than I planned, but we’re on track for a January launch providing us a much better look and feel and more integration between our site and Collegiate Connect. 

And a few smaller ones —

Faculty Professional Development Reports — Last year we did these in a DrupalEd environment.  This year, they will be in Moodle.   Just waiting for MoodleRooms to finish up our Moodle config and we’ll be rocking and rolling. 

New Media Gallery Training — Whipplehill just released the new version of their Media Gallery which is a Flickr like upgrade to their photo galleries but wh also includes a slick video and audio player.  Tagging and all sorts of web 2.0 goodies available.  We’re starting with our archived digital photos from 2001 to the present.  Our archivist has two parent volunteers who will be working on this all year.  Very exciting!

Oh, yeah — On the personal front we’re a few weeks away from a working kitchen — you can check out some of the pics here.  Feels like I have two 10 hour a day jobs lately. 

arvind and I will be webcasting again over at EdTechTalk in the next few weeks.  Just need to wait for his teaching schedule to get going. 

I’ve also decided not to subscribe to all of the listserv’s I traditional participate in and concentrate on Twitter, the ISENet Ning and my Blogroll this year.  See you all there. 

I’m sure there is lots more, but that’s it in a nut shell right now.  See you all on the other side!

Managing Progress

 This year is a rebuilding year.  As I wrote about in my reorganization post in the summer, I have three new staff members in my department this year.  We are physically 12_11_2007 08_02 AMspread all over the school, creating divisions that can negatively effect department cohesiveness if we do not stay in frequent contact.

To work around this, we’ve been meeting bi-weekly as a whole department.   I meet daily with my Network Administration and Technical Support Specialist.  I have also scheduled bi-weekly meetings with individual department members.  I know, you’re saying, that’s a lot of meetings.  But these meetings are critical to keeping things going.  To check in and move projects forward.  To know how my staff is feeling.  As we grow more cohesive, I can see taking some time off of these meetings, but for now, they are critical. 

In the support staff meetings, we have been digging through our network settings (active directory policies, Internet settings, and router and switch configs), desktop and laptop image  creation and configuration, policies and procedures, and how to communicate with faculty and staff.  These conversations allow us to share best practices.  It allows us to know what our technical issues are and to wrestle with making decisions for next September. 

In full department meetings, we started by discussing how we are communicating internally, what we have been doing over the semester, and which tools we will be rolling out to the academic community over the next year.  We’ve used so many different technologies over the past few years, that keeping up is tough.  So we created a list of the department blog, wiki, and our web help desk.   We discussed how to use each one.  We use these tools in our day to day work with the school and the department.     

So is this and effective management technique? 

In order to evaluate them, I need to look back to the goals of my department:

  • To provide reliable and consistent access to technology for students, faculty, and staff
  • To develop technology skills in students, faculty and staff that support the curricular goals of the school

If I measure us against those goals, we are definitely more prepared to support our faculty and staff. This is a slow process because we are going through all of our configurations with a fine tooth comb, but we’re fixing support issues that have been nagging us for years and we’re looking to the future for major improvements.

On the classroom integration front, I see progress in taking our more technology savvy faculty to the next level.  We are also making progress in implementing student and faculty curriculum standards.  We are building out our Intranet where we can support WordPress MU, Gallery, Moodle, and some group Drupal sites.  We’ll be concentrating on how we use these tools in the spring.

How do you manage staff transitions?

How do you keep a dispersed department cohesive?

EduCon2.0

With all of the conferences happening over the next few weeks (K12Online, AIMS, and NEIT2007, it’s kind of hard for me to think about January, but EduCon 2.0 coming fast.

EduCon 2.0 is being hosted by Chris Lehmann, Principal of Science Leadership Academy from January 25 – 27 in Philadelphia, PA.

Please take a Chris’: EduCon 2.0 — A Call for Conversations and the Conference Wiki.

This is going to be a great event.  Don’t miss it.

Nomination for Technology & Learning Leader of the Year : Jeff Lebow

Recommendation for Jeff Lebow

I first met Jeff Lebow while listening to an EdTechTalk podcast that was published in the Winter of 2005. EdTechTalk and Worldbridges were foggy to me back then. I was not sure if it was a few or many people. A huge server farm or just a few.

After listening for a while, I realized that it was only Jeff and Dave Cormier supporting the servers, putting in the time, and creating content for EdTechTalk. Then Jeff offered something called Webcast Academy. A way for the average user to learn how to webcast — to participate and use the EdTechTalk servers to enhance the community that Jeff had created. I thought, “I would never be able to get into that class — There must be so many people signed up by now — and plus — I have three young children and can’t participate live.” I signed up anyway and started listening to the podcast recordings of their Webcast Academy sessions. After a few sessions, I actually learned how to webcast, found a co-host and started to do a weekly show with arvind grover, Director of Technology at Hewitt School.

Fourty episodes later, we’re still webcasting with the support of Jeff Lebow. I’ve never given Jeff a dime, and he has happily funded our servers and training by working at his day job over the past two years.

Watching EdTechTalk develop over the past two years has been amazing. We now have over 8 weekly webcasts and an environment that supports teachers integrating technology around the world.

With this type of influence, Jeff Lebow, deserves your award. As the world changes, alternative ways of professional development will become more and more common, and I believe that the professional learning community that Jeff Lebow has created is a powerful example of this new world of professional growth.

Thank you for your time.