I came across the comment by Catlin Tucker on her Twitter feed, and it very much describes how I feel about staff training and professional development.
There is nothing as frustrating as being trained to do something that you are not able to apply immediately. Recently I was asked by our local Department of Education to show a group of teachers how Kahoot! works. I love Kahoot! and I love sharing it, but afterwards, I felt so despondent because out of the 200 people who attended my sessions maybe 10 had the resources in their class to use Kahoot! Hopefully I at least manage to inspire them with what is out there. Otherwise it was a complete waste of everybody’s time. But like most things it is a two-way street. It is just as much a waste of time to be showed how to do something – that you have the resources to use – and you don’t try it out immediately.
When we started our metamorphosis to eLearning, a suggestion was put on the table to postpone our plans by a year and spend that year training the staff. I have seen many schools go this route and on paper, it seems like a solid plan. The problem, however, is that you spend a year training people, but they are not able to apply what they learn. In theory, they should go and practice what they learned to be prepared for the next year. The reality is that they are full-time teachers who have to plan tomorrow’s lesson, they do not have time to prepare and practice next year’s activities. There is something to be said for throwing people in the deep-end. Give them the resources and the training at the same time, so that they can apply what they have learned.
But it is a two-way street. So often I hear one of our teachers saying,
Not realising that there is never enough time, the only way to practice is to use it and the longer you wait to try the less confident you will be.
How about we make a deal? I promise to include something you can use on Monday in my training sessions if you promise to take one thing from my training and use it by Monday. Do we have a deal?