Friday, August 24, 2007

My Role in Professional Development This Year

I met with the principal to discuss my role in staff development. Since we did not make AYP and I hold the belief that using technology as an instructional tool is a big part of getting students to perform better in school, I wanted to voice some of my concerns and get feedback from her. So we met in her office to go over them. It was a productive meeting which answered many of my questions but as with any new adventure, there are some answers that will just have to unfold as the year progresses.

As always, my biggest concern is my lack of time to work with teachers. I wear a great number of hats in this building from Tech Ed teacher, ISS facilitator, to computer repair guy, to Technology Resource Teacher Specialist, to Technology Coordinator. All of these jobs have important roles in the school to maintain an orderly school envirnoment and make learning possible. However, the one role I have that I don't see a solid connection to making AYP is being in ISS for half a day, every other day. It is the way it is but I needed clarification on why a highly skilled, highly qualified teacher is needed to fill that need. The answer was straightforth and simple: it's a staffing issue. The front office people are frequently needed to cover classes where a substitute teacher doesn't show up. That was something I didn't realize was so frequent. One other possiblity it to have the Community Liason cover ISS for one block. That way we all have one block to cover and that's definitely a good compromise. Apparently, our community liason is also called out for substituting frequently. I'd still be willing to structure so that if they are needed to be in a classrom, I can just do ISS for them. At least that will free up some additional time.

I feel that my talents are underused but it's not a concious choice to under use them. The situation is what it is. However, if I were an administrator, I'd want my staff with the skills that can help the school make AYP in the position they need to be in to get the students and teachers the help they need. Sometimes, I feel devalued because my vision is not shared and/or it is not communicated in a way so others see the great value and potential it has. So, the ISS situation is the way it is.

Since I always try to find compromise in any situation, I suggested that I work directly with the Special Education teachers since they are working with our SpEd students in a dedicated resource room this year. My hope is that I will be able to share ideas on how to use technology to capture the attention of our students and to provide accomodations for the more needy students. In turn, I hope the Special Education staff will share these ideas with the classroom teachers who will then apply them to their regular instruction. At least the theory sounds good. It reminds me of "Trickle Down Economics." We'll see how well this works.

Scheduling will be an issue because the SpEd teachers are all over the place. The only day when they are not scheduled to be in a classroom is Thursday when IEP meetings are held. The IEP schedule changes weekly so some SpEd teacher will be available. Of course, if it is an ISS day, I may not be available. We'll have to do the best we can.

After the meeting I shared my idea of working directly with the Special Ed teachers with the team leader. She thought it was a good idea but concerned about another "meeting" that the teachers had to attend. She suggested that my meetings with them be used in place of the required ELC participation. I felt that was a good idea and I told her I would discuss it with the principal.

I believe this is a good plan on paper, but I'm not sure how it will work. I know that we are scheduled to get about 100 new computers that will take weeks to set up, I have my own staff development presentations to create, I have my Tech Ed class to teach, I have to troubleshoot problems on a network I am not intimately familiar with, I have to take my last grad class, I have to plan for my ELO club after school, and I have to be home immediately after all official school business is finished so my wife can go to work and I stay with my children. So this is going to be quite a juggling act. Only time will tell if it will work.

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