Ugggghhhh Teacher inservice days. Professional development can be a really awesome thing, but there are times where it can be a very bad, horrible, no good thing. For example, our school district gave the kids Columbus day off and reserved it as a day for professional development for the staff. Up to date, our school’s track record is awesome. Our last ones had the interesting tech stuff I talked about a while back, and I left feeling like I got a lot of really great resources out of that one. This past workday started with potential. To start, we had a guest speaker come in and talk about formative assessments – which was actually pretty good. (As a student teacher who JUST took a class on formative assessments, some was repetitive, but I get that this is for the collective whole…plus it really was pretty good) The speaker had a lot of info, good examples, and I left feeling like I got something out of it.

Then, came lunch, which is always my favorite time. Sidebar – the people in my social studies department are awesome. I only hope that when I get a job, i’ll be lucky enough to find a team like this. It’s so funny how commiserating with people can make everything better.Back to the point – after lunch came misery.

The next three hours of my life was filled with workshop training on how to use the new macbook pros all the teachers got. Yes – quite aware at how incredibly LUCKY they are to have gotten brand new laptops in this economy. The problem was just there was no way out for people who already know how to work a macs, or anything productive for them to do. Yes – I’m a mac snob, BUT instead of forcing me to go through the same training as people who’ve never touched them, why not provide more in-depth training on how to incorporate mac technologies…i.e. Garageband and imovie…into the classroom? OR, even better – let me help people who don’t understand during the workshop. I think the tech gurus were a little hesitant to let anyone besides themselves trouble start or help people perform basic functions, but those of us familiar with it could have helped! I mean come on, the student teachers are all mid 20’s and have grown up with computers. If anyone could assist, it’d be us. (Plus all the student teachers had to take a tech class in grad school and conveniently all have macs)

I’m noting how bitter I sound in this post, but I think my hang up is just that if I’m going to be there and can’t plan – I really want to learn something, and I felt like our time could have been better used. I wish there was a way to poll teachers and ask around to see what workshops they do and don’t want. Do some schools do that or is that unheard of?

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This past week was my first time in my student teaching placement, and was full of classroom decorating (so fun), syllabus planning and lots, and lots, of teacher workshops. The school district I’m in has embraced what they call “21st Century Teaching,” aka catching up in technology and incorporating it in the classroom. (Loved it, great idea – but I do think that if I heard wiki one more time I would have poked my eye out.) The workshops they put on were amazingly awesome, and I have to admit that they were far from what I expected. The teachers in my team had spent hours telling me funny, but true, stories of how bad workshops in years past had been, and even they were surprised to see what the district had put together.

For the most part, the presentations and workshops were put on by two very respected companies, November Learning and Stratalogica. The speaker, Alan November, was both practical and motivating – he even had the teachers try out a lot of the tools he was discussing during his presentation. The workshops preceding were equally informative, and I’ll include links to some of the tools he offered at the bottom of this post. Take one, pass it on:)

Beyond my own infatuation with the workshops, there were two different reactions to this I noticed: half the faculty was really excited, the other half looked ready to die. I know that technology can be a difficult thing to learn – my mom still calls me asking how to turn the DVD player on. I’ve been out of the house for 5 years and am 3,000 miles away. Has she stopped calling? No. Why learn how to turn it on when someone else can do it for you – even if it’s over the phone? So from personal experience with my lovely momma, I get it. What surprised me was that when it came time to pick workshops, all the panic-strickened faculty avoided the technology options like the plague. Why is it that when presented with an opportunity to learn about the clearly unknown, these people were the first to bail? In all seriousness, if you know the answer – don’t hesitate to comment, I’m still curious.

The second thing noticed was more about how the process of learning to be a teacher has changed, thanks to technology. Only a 5-6 years removed from the eldest kids we’re teaching, my cohort of fellow student teachers probably qualify in that category of “21st century learners.” In grad school, there is a large focus on incorporating technology – we even had to take a “Teaching with technology” class to graduate. Technology is incorporated in almost every class, using SMARTboards to teach, online assessments and collaboration, even clickers in class for formative assessments. Technology has seeped into teacher education, making it impossible for new teachers such as myself to picture educating students without it. Taking into consideration the reaction of some of the teachers in the field to technology – it will definitely be an interesting dynamic to watch.

For those curious, here are some of the resources given to us during this week – I highly recommend checking them out and seeing if you can use them in your classroom!

  1. – great way to use kid’s obsession with cell phones to your advantage!

  2. Titan Pad – This is great for chats with large groups of people, but be careful – without oversight, can lead to a lot of off topic discussions. This review from TeachersFirst describes it in greater detail.

  3. PrimaryPad – same thing as Titanpad but allows drawing!

  4. Khan Academy – endless resources, the link leads to another review from TeachersFirst

  5. Itunes U – in your Itunes store, this resource is towards the bottom of the page and hosts thousands of podcasts and any and all academic subjects.

  6. Maps of War – great for us History teachers!

  7. Student News Action – a really great place to find resources from all over the world on a variety of topics


Take One. Pass it on.