Friday, September 21, 2007

New Teacher Training, Part 2

Yesterday, we met with our new staff for the second time this year, but really it was the first time to get a hold of them after their first impressions of the classroom have sunken in. And rather than focus solely on what they were experiencing and how they are dealing with it, which is of dire importance, we pushed their buttons a little.

Let me explain: our first year induction program for new teachers was recently revamped to be more of a reflective practice that centers on Dr. Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering, and Jane Pollock's book Classroom Instruction that Works. This year we also added the reflective feature of asking them to blog about their practices and its relation to Marzano, et. al's book, on a blog through 21classes. What this enables them to do is to reflect on their own practice, comment on others, but also archives these reflections for them throughout their first year here.

These are all common practices for those who have been blogging for a while; however, to teachers fresh out of college, or new to our district from another district, it set a fairly high bar in terms of the instructional style that we expect of our staff.

Does this reflect how our veteran staff uses technology or their familiarity with social technology? Not exactly. But this is a great start. The conversations that I was privy to during the day all centered on the focus we are putting on not just technology, but also using it in a way that matters, that is consistent with our curricular goals, and that is nearly transparent.

As the day moved from discussion of their program to the nuts and bolts of class website creation and online gradebook setup, several of them pulled me aside and asked if I could help them set up their blog, their podcast (which is the format that they were asked to submit their reflection in for month two), or asked me if I know about wikis. They were excited though, and I made a great effort to allay any uneasiness that showed up. I used Toeffler's quote about illiteracy in the 21st Century to end the session and let them know that change will define their teaching career, and embracing it would surely lead to greater success and lifelong learning.

On a side note that is somewhat related, if my schedule is any indication of the direction we are moving in, than this year is going to one of great change and innovation.


diane said...


Your training sounds like a fantastic way to introduce new teachers to a technology enhanced curriculum right from the beginning of their career.

In an online course I took, group members had a discussion about whether colleges and graduates schools were incorporating 21st century skills in teacher preparation programs. Many of the supervisors of student teachers are veterans who pre-date the digital revolution and have not chose to acquire or update their skills. Do you see this as a problem?

(My Current Events students are still working on their response to your question about the Obligation of Schooling, and I hope to share some of their comments next week.)

diane said...


I hate not catching typos on my comments! Anyone else bothered by this?

Patrick Higgins said...


The problem you mention is one that we are addressing, hopefully, through this program as well. In a few weeks, we will invite the mentors onto the blog where they can then contribute to the discussion and learning in this way also.

As for the your students, I was inspired by your ideas and posted threads of the discussion on a class wiki for our AP Language students. I am meeting with them on Monday to discuss it further. Thanks for the great idea and I look forward to hearing your students' responses.

Sue Waters said...

Hi Patrick

I incorporate reflective practice into professional development that I facilitate. My question is do you have specific questions that you are asking them to reflect on as they are undertaking their journey?


Clay Burell said...

We're holding a "Learning 2.0" high school mini-conference for a full day in two weeks, and my principal already set up a Ning for it. Your approach to making reflective use of the blogs is something worth suggesting to him as a follow-up. Thanks for one more fine morsel to steal :)

Patrick Higgins said...


Our director of curriculum, a great mind and good friend, created the program, and mapped out the questions for the first few months based on Marzano's book.

Here was the first task:

Watch Darren Draper's video "Pay Attention" How does this make you feel with regards to planning for instruction? Toward education in general? How are you meeting the needs of the digital learners sitting in front of you?

I'll try to get Dan hooked into this discussion to further explain the program. My input, like many situations I am involved in, centered around helping him find the right tool to get the new teachers connected in a meaningful way while only meeting once a month for ten months. Blogging seemed a natural fit.