Tech & Tea: an attempt at ICT workshops

As you probably know, I have started working at a new school this year. You probably know that it’s not just a classroom teacher position, but an executive position where I am responsible for the professional learning of the teaching staff at the school. It’s this new role that has both excited and terrified me. I’m excited because professional learning for teachers is my passion, but terrified because I know the reality of schools. It’s grappling with this reality that has been the biggest challenge, and the biggest learning curve for me. Initially my focus was on introducing PBL to the whole staff, through subject-specific projects in year 8, and then a cross-KLA project with year 7. Well, despite my vision, and optimism, (and far too many pleading emails) this first focus has stalled. I think what I learnt the most from this first attempt at introducing something new, is not to make assumptions, and to communicate with people in person.  Anyway, I quickly moved onto a second focus (whilst still holding out hope for the first) which is ICT based workshops for interested teachers.

After chatting with my friend Megan Townes, I came up with the idea of Tech and Tea – after school workshops where I would introduce teachers to a new web-based app, or tool, that would enhance teaching and learning. I provide afternoon tea as well. I made a flyer outlining all of the workshops, and advertised it to staff via a morning staff meeting and email. Here’s the flyer, which I made using Canva:

Tea & Tech-T1 (revised)

So, the first workshop was at a lunch time and was on Twitter and four teachers came – three from the English faculty, and one of our deputies. I provided WAY too much food, which gave away my overly optimistic assumption that heaps of teachers would want to come to my workshop on Twitter. I mean, Twitter and me! Who wouldn’t want to come? I have over 4500 followers – I am KNOWN, right? Well, no, I’m not. Busy teachers don’t give a rat’s about how many Twitter followers you have, or how long you’ve been tweeting for. Anyway, two of the teachers have started using Twitter now, which I think is a win – that’s two more than were on it before. Below is my presentation for the workshop. Maybe you might have more success luring teachers to your Twitter workshop?

Tech&TeachPL-Twitter

The most recent Tech and Tea was also held at lunch time. It was on blogs – reading them and writing them. I brought less afternoon tea this time, but it was still too much. I sat by myself in the meeting room for the first half of lunch, and then half way through the second half one of the HSIE staff came in. She’s a lovely person, who is super keen to learn new things. I flicked through the slides of the blogging PPT, but discovered she was more interested in Twitter. We spent about ten minutes trying to set her up – it failed due to the Internet dropping out – and then the bell went, and it was time for class. Once again, here’s the slides if you want to use them.

Tech&TeachPL-Blogging

So what have I learnt from this? I’ve learnt that I am stupidly persistent. I know I will continue to buy/make cakes and bring them in, sit in the meeting room and hope that someone will turn up. I’ll continue to email the whole staff and promote Tech and Tea, and share the PPTs with them incase they can’t come. I’ve learnt that teachers are crazy busy, and that I’m pretty much as insane as people have always hinted at. I spend way too much of my time thinking about teaching – as a profession, not as an activity that occupies me for most of the day. I’ve learnt that there must be another way to do PL, other than hoping people will turn up, and I’m going to find out what it is.

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12 thoughts on “Tech & Tea: an attempt at ICT workshops

  1. If I were a member of staff at your school, I’d be there in a flash! Please, if you find time, put up the remaining workshop slides after you present them. I will be sitting here waiting – I promise! Keep plodding on. Persistence will pay off. Thanks again for your writing. You have some great ideas that serve to inspire an old teacher like me! Margaret x

  2. Get me a three day gig down there and I’d come! Teachers seem to be scared of new ideas. It amazes me how many say they wouldn’t use computers if they weren’t teaching. And how many ask a question and are shocked that I find them the answer using Google… Keep on pushing. We need more enthusiasm!

  3. You have a lot to offer, but teachers are busy people, as you know. Maybe asking the teachers what they would like to know or require help with may help to get the ball started. Going to them to answer their need may spark the interest of others and then you will have a small group ready and eager for a workshop – tailored to their needs, not yours. 🙂

  4. This is an awesome initiative Bianca! Continue to be persistent! Continue to buy cakes! Is there someone else who would join you regularly from your leadership team? My Head of Primary and I have been holding Techie Brekkies fortnightly for nearly two years now! In the first few months we often had breakfast together, but as time passed more teachers came. Keep up the initiative! You WILL make a difference! By the way, you are one of those who inspired me to develop my Twitter PLN! I’m glad I’m one of the 4500!

  5. Keep at it, Bianca – win them over one or two at a time. Walk with them, don’t run ahead (advice given to me by a former principal, advice I have to keep reminding myself to follow). Keep making yourself available and slowly you’ll create the culture you’re hoping to create. Best wishes – working with the teachers is often so much more difficult and challenging than working with the kids precisely because they are so much more leery of change…

  6. We have experienced a similar thing with introducing BYOD at our school, we offer PD after school every Tuesday on blogging, twitter, Explain Everything (flipped classroom), and creating a YouTube channel. We have had PD at the beginning of the year on PBL, creating content and a whole range of things. But still we have people who are not interested or too busy.
    I think persistence is one of the keys, once you build a group it will snow ball and people will get on board because everyone else is. We are starting to see this happen now.
    Building relationships is also key, people are more likely to follow if they know you and like you.
    Keep going, you’re not the only ‘lone nut’ out there!

  7. Keep at it – it will slowly bear fruit. Perhaps consider as another string to your bow giving people the option to book you for a 20 minute chat over a cup of tea about some piece of technology they’re interested in. I did this one year when I got some additional time and found out that my being flexible and going to them at a time that suited them really helped. Plus, 1:1 people didn’t feel so worried about not knowing what was going on and maybe looking a bit daft! 🙂

  8. Been wondering the same thing in regards to PD and engagement. As much as we try and break the mould, it so often seems to make its way back to the default setting. I have found persistence, patience and passion to really follow through. I too only have two serious users of Twitter, but a few others who I know are lurking. Positively, I have a few in leadership. At the end of the day, I believe in what I do (although there are enough that don’t – http://issuu.com/tempomedia/docs/ted-14 RE Technostress) so I we continue to work on modelling this and hopefully get to a point where the practise is spread by others. This has been the case with Google Docs. I tried in vain to introduce Docs to a PE teachers, especially when the iPad app allowed for offline use. He initially rejected it as it wasn’t ‘Microsoft’ and didn’t look familar. However, a few other people from outside of the school showed him some things and he came running back. He is now training up OTHER PE teachers in his team having seen the light. I would guess that is the perfect situation, right?

  9. Hey Bianca,
    I am in a similar role in my school. Be confident in what you have to offer….the e profile that you have will certainly give you ‘street credibility’. Always important to get to know your staff and their needs. Think about the demographics of your school…how many are in need of professional hours to maintain accreditation? Can you get your workshops accredited?
    PBL seems to have been well received thus far so perhaps offer your skills in helping individual teachers in your subject area utilise PBL and step off from there. Try and team teach and get them into your classroom. Be happy that someone attends and keep plugging away……there are still those of us on line that love updates on what you do.
    Di McGowan

  10. I’ve had the greatest success meeting teachers where they are at – just-in-time type learning. Visit classrooms, see what’s going on, listen to what they are doing, then offer ways to add value without adding too much extra work. Working with the already-interested to fly ahead gives you some “exemplars” to use with those still hesitant. Most people agree that the world is changing, so conversations about pedagogy and practice, and understandings of how people learn, often open doors to introducing 21st century learning. All the best in the new gig!

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