Which three telltale comments relate to you as an adult learner?
I have the opportunity to attend quite a few workshops and once a year, get to attend a national conference. Through these learning opportunities, I have, over the years, become increasingly picky about what I attend. So, there are quite a few of these telltale signs that relate to me.
#1 I hope this isn’t a waste of my time.
I am part of a statewide organization in Nebraska called TAG (Technology Affiliate Group) that is part of a larger Professional Development Organization. We have several technology trainings throughout the year in which we can partake. Years ago, I would go to every training I could, whether it was relevant to what I taught or not. As I have matured, I realize there is too much for just one person to do and so let my teaching partners take up where I would leave off and vice-a-versa. The three other people I work with on a daily basis and I decide what is important for each of us to fulfill our mission and these are the workshops we attend. They may be together or they may be separate but we make sure it isn’t a waste of our time.
#5 Who says? Who says this is better?
When trying to find new ways to integrate cutting edge technology it is often difficult to find data to support learning growth at the student level. This is why I try to focus everything I teach on research based concepts rather than the latest technology tools. My top three sources I use to back the technology I teach are materials from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Classroom Instruction that Works by Robert Marzano, and the Horizon Report.
Being a big fan of twitter and having a large network of education technology folks, there are a lot of suggestions for new technology discussed that don’t relate to the concepts and are just techy for the sake of playing with the newest, latest or greatest toys. The tools I use and teach must have some relevant education value for me to share.
#8 I want to look this up on my own.
I have to admit that I am a bit ADHD and it is extremely difficult for me to sit through a workshop or presentation without being able to process what it is they are talking about or showing. I am constantly Googling and looking up resources the instructor is talking about. I even found myself trying to find relevant images in a recent workshop that was talking about the RtI process in Math. Not having much background in this area, I was finding Math resources and RtI resources to enhance what the speaker was presenting. I find it extremely useful for presenters to provide other resources for further investigation.
Which two telltale comments do you witness most in those you work to educate?
#1 I hope this isn’t a waste of my time.
I hear this time and time again from teachers in any professional development environment. Teachers have plenty on their plate and they could be doing a lot of other things other than sitting in a training that doesn’t pertain to them. They could be planning or checking papers or whatever it may be. Through the years, I have had a few teachers come to my workshops because they would receive grant dollars or their administration forced them to come. But because they perceived it was a waste of their time, got nothing out of the workshop and did nothing during or after the training with their newfound knowledge.
#3 Can I use this right away?
This is two fold. One side of the coin is they want the time in a workshop to develop a product and so they want time to use the knowledge immediately in the training. The other side is once they have their end product, will they be able to use it right away when they get back to their school.
We used to do a lot of workshops on Digital Storytelling. In the beginning we would have canned projects for them to work on throughout the day to learn the process. And while they learned HOW to create digital stories, we found that letting them come up with their own project was much more beneficial. Not only could they relate to the project on a personal level, they also had a product they could take home and be proud of – maybe using it in the class for instruction or having something to show family.
As an instructor, share with the class some of your “best practices” in dealing with students and these telltale comments.
As I read through the telltale comments, some thoughts popped into my mind in how I have dealt with situations where these come up.
#1 – Although I share learning objectives I want my participants to achieve by the end of the workshop, I always ask them what their expectation is so I have a clear picture and know what they need.
#2 I try to make the workshop presentation relevant or practical for each person. For example, when teaching a WordPress workshop, I ask them how they are going to use their web presence using this software. If they don’t have ideas, I will dig deeper into his/her background and help them come up with ideas or show them examples of how other teachers are using it in their classrooms.
#3 When deciding which technologies support a particular learning concept, I try to choose something that I know the participants will have access to when they get back to their district. For example, lots of districts will censor or block websites such as YouTube. So, I will show them alternatives that are not blocked such as TeacherTube.
#4 Always let them work on projects that pertain to them or their classroom.
#5 Always have something to back up the concept. For example, if I am teaching Google Docs, there might not be any data suggesting it raises test scores. But, if I teach Google Docs with the concept of collaboration as a needed 21st century skill or as one of Marzano’s nine strategies, there is much more research data supporting this concept.
#6 Other than introductory presentations, every workshop has the objective of being able to walk out knowing how to implement a particular skill with the technology that is being shown. Teachers who come in wanting a web presence expect to know how to update their spelling lists or lesson plans. My best practice for this is to have them do it! Hands-on. I also fell it helps them if they use their own equipment and so encourage them to bring a laptop of their own.
#7 I don’t feel comfortable teaching a topic that I don’t know or do myself. I try to stretch myself and try new things. I tend to get to know the ins and outs of anything I am going to teach. I also attend trainings that are relevant and work with others that teach the same concepts and technologies.
#8 I provide resources for further investigation. There has never been a time that I’ve had a lack of material to present and so giving them resources to investigate is easy to do by providing them with a website or handout for them to take home.
#9 Although I have not actively encouraged this in the past, I have really seen how this can be beneficial in my last couple of workshops. I will definitely start to encourage teams of participants.
#10 I need to find some strategies to encourage people to share their expertise. With technology workshops, people feel intimidated by the technology and tend to forget their expertise in the context in which it is shared or integrated (ie: teaching.) I will sometimes have someone share how they are using it in their classroom but it tends to put that person on the spot and may actually discourage others from sharing because the person “knows so much” already. I’ll definitely be looking for strategies to help with this telltale comment.