HippoBytes: Bite-Sized Tech PD

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Marketing promotes awareness of the HippoBytes PD sessions.

Having substantially completed AISB’s technology strategic plan to move to a BYOD model in the secondary, buy tablets for the elementary and upgrade the infrastructure to support the devices, my focus in semester 2 is to create a sustainable professional development model for our faculty of 20 teachers.

In the fall I ran across Korea International School’s Fishbowl Model and decided to adopt it for use at AISB. In a nutshell, the Fishbowl PD model encompasses:

  • Relevant topics: data is gathered from participants to understand why they attend and how they use what they’ve learned
  • Useful topics: presented on things that teachers ask for as well as things they may not have ever heard of
  • Voluntary and consistent sessions: attendance isn’t mandatory, and sessions are offered at several times (always on a regular schedule) throughout the week during the school day so that teachers can attend in their free periods
  • Marketing: so that teachers know what, when, and where PD happens
  • Evolution: the PD team uses evidence to reflect and improve on trainings

At AISB we’ve tried to adopt the structure as best we can, given that we don’t have any staff devoted full-time to teacher development (I teach over a 40% load in addition to being responsible for all IT; my assistant runs some sessions but has similarly diverse responsibilities). We run six 40-minute sessions on two different topics throughout the week, structured so that two sessions are accessible to elementary classroom teachers, two are available to specialists, and two are available to secondary teachers. In such a small faculty we don’t expect more than one or two teachers to show up, so we’ve been happy that two or three (10-15% of the faculty) typically attend each of our sessions. After 4-5 weeks we plan to send out our first feedback survey to see if we can tweak the format or schedule.

We generated a Harvard notes-style outline for each session, but the session itself is mostly a hands-on demo. We then post a summary to our school’s Teaching and Learning Blog since we don’t expect full retention from a 40-minute session. The goal is to give teachers enough experience to want to innovate in their classrooms. You can’t force teachers to innovate, but you can give them the tools and support framework to make them comfortable to do so.

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