School Librarians can provide important in-house opportunities for professional development, especially in the arena of the integration of technical tools that support 21st Century Learning in the classroom. Teaching teachers is clearly different from teaching younger students. In spite of the differences, the ARCS Model of Motivational Design, which focuses on the four motivational elements of attention, relevance, confidence and satisfaction, provides value to preparing professional development experiences as well as to preparing traditional classroom lessons.
During the last few weeks of the Motivating 21st Century Learners course, a thread titled “HS Teacher Workshops” caught my attention on one of the school media specialist ListServs. In the original message, a librarian requested suggestions for topics for workshops she could offer to teaching staff at her school. The librarian mentioned “database, eBooks, and the catalog” as ideas. The answers to her request revealed to me an interesting difference in how we approach the practical matter of teaching tech tools to teachers—that we sometimes focus more on the tools than the objective.
The answer to this query that stood out to me as most effective did not focus on the tech tools the librarian is presenting to teachers, but on the use of those tools. This thread made me think about how we should frame our instruction objectives for teacher workshops the same way we create learning objectives for students—by clearly stating the outcomes we expect from the lesson. The most useful suggestions include lesson focuses like:
• Using web tools for class projects
• Integrating the library into the curriculum with current books
• Using social media as a classroom tool
• Using the Library Web page as a classroom tool
By focusing more on the goal than on the tool, we can generate a better understanding of how we support teachers and we can invite them to ask us if there are particular tools they would like us to cover in support of the learning objective.
Lessons Learned from Exemplary Schools, an article from the journal TechTrends, provides examples of professional development successes that can further inform the way we plan professional development opportunities. The success stories included point to the following key elements to provide a foundation for effective professional development:
Treat Teachers as Professionals
Consider Teacher Input When Planning
Provide Feedback About the Impact of the Training
I would address each of the elements using the ARCS model as follows, if I were beginning to plan technology integration teacher training:
In staff training, it will be important to capture and maintain interest and attention through both inquiry arousal (asking questions, brainstorming) and variability (mixing lecture, physical activity, group work).
The relevance of this training to teachers is high, although there will be some teachers who do not see their subject area as having anything to do with “tech.” Providing specific examples of successful technology integration practices across the curriculum will emphasize the relevance of the training to all.
The expected level of confidence teachers have in their technology integration skills will vary widely across the board, and it is likely that confidence levels will not reflect actual skill level. By providing multiple examples, student-led activities, peer learning activities, and multiple opportunities for feedback, the teachers will have the opportunity to explore technology integration methods that both boost their confidence and challenge them.
The expected level of satisfaction for teachers participating in technology integration training is medium to high. Many teachers will come to the training understanding the potential satisfaction that their success in the training will translate to in better student engagement and learning in the classroom. Teachers should be given multiple opportunities during the training to share their successes and their own ideas for integrating technology into their lessons.
Each of these elements point to the subtle way that teacher training (i.e. professional development) differs from teaching students. While we show respect, consider needs and share feedback with all students, teacher-students are in a unique position to play a more active role in the development, planning, execution, and improvement of their own training.
TechTrends is a subscription journal that caters to professionals in the field of educational communication and technology. You may be able to obtain a copy of this article through inter-library loan or through an online database that your library already subscribes to…just ask your librarian!
Schrum, L., & Levin, B. B. (2013). Lessons learned from exemplary schools. TechTrends, 57(1), 38-42. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11528-012-0629-6