Wednesday, 12 April 2017

My grounds duty is IT-Drop In

Problem = offering one off PLD about digital tools to teachers is not effective because more than half of them can't keep up with the lesson, there is too much content, and teachers weren't given time to play with it and think about how it fits their classrooms.
Solution = offering teachers ongoing support much more often; what they need, when they need it
                   2nd Problem = IT staff don't have time to do this, not enough IT staff too many teachers
My version of this solution = "IT-Drop In" which is an allocated grounds duty

All teachers have duty in schools, designed to make the environment during break times safe for students.  All schools have those cushy duties where your relationship-management skills are not really needed, it is just supervision.  In my school, that cushy duty is the Library Classroom - a suite of computers the students can use at break time.  The students are so busy in their virtual worlds, they don't have time to annoy anyone in real world.

To make this a productive duty time I introduced IT-Drop In and in 2016 offered digital support to my colleagues during my lunch time duty slot.  In 2016 myself and another teacher offered 2 lunch times a week to our colleagues for help.   This year we have every lunch time duty in the library classroom covered by digitally savvy teachers and we are really beginning to create confidence in our colleagues to try new digital tools in their classrooms.

It-Drop In works because teachers don't need an appointment, they just turn up when they have a few minutes.  By offering it 5 days a week we can capture most of the teachers in the school and offer them a time that suites their busy schedules.  Teachers can come back as often as they need to and many come regularly, to get the next step.

We don't just help teachers, we help any student that drops by too.  Our aim is to increase the use of digital tools in the classroom and so it naturally follows that if the teachers begin to use digi-tools then more students will also need more support.

The most common requests for support are: 
  • Connecting BYOD devices to the wi-fi 
  • Accessing online lesson content the teacher has posted 
  • Sharing online content they have created with someone else, usually their teacher 
  • Navigating Office 365 and all the apps 
  • Understanding the difference between online apps and client apps 
  • Downloading the free Office 365 students have access to

  • Using and navigating the Office 365 online environment 
  • Creating and using OneNote or ClassNotebook 
  • Adding/Removing students from Onenote 
  • Brainstorming the best app to use for a particular learning situation 
  • Using Kamar (Kamar is our student management system)
  • Emailing the whole class using a group class email (which is populated from Kamar)
  • Setting up PLG groups in O365 

Students tend to only come to see me once or twice but teachers often return regularly for the "next step".  Students like getting that help when someone has time to help them, they often find the teacher in the classroom is not able to spend as much time with them or they have only done it once in class and have forgotten; just needing a reminder.
Teachers report an increasing confidence in giving something new a go because they know they can easily get help at lunch time if they get stuck.  Large learning curves are broken down into small learning curve chunks with help available at the next step.  This gives teachers the head space to think about how a particular tool could enhance student learning.

I learn new things too.  A teacher will brainstorm with me about something they want to do in class that I hadn't thought about.  We work out a strategy and digi-tool(s) together and I enjoy hearing about it afterwards.  Our IT staff are getting busier in some ways and less busy in others.  They are being asked questions that are utilising their tech-minds more and stretching their IT to learning knowledge.  Less often do they get requests for help about sharing digital content, setting up ClassNotebooks, printing etc. 
The teachers who come to IT-Drop In are spreading their new knowledge within their departments and digital knowledge is disseminating quickly amongst my colleagues.  I am starting to get teachers coming to IT-Drop In who have been shown something by a colleague and need the next step. Or... teachers say "____ is doing ___, how can I do that?"

Disseminating digital knowledge to teachers this way is a slow process but it is always at the pace of the teachers who seek it, delivered in a timely manner for them, and is able to be linked to class lessons quickly because it is a small chunk at a time, allowing for thinking  and processing time in the mind of the teacher.

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