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and furthermore... now that I've had some dinner... It seems like so many sites have tried prof dev initiatives the same way, failure after failure, and then rotated the same failed plans every, well, 5-8 years. Especially common in places where there is a considerable turnover in staff. We've discussed failed professional development models for years at 'pizza' meetings, on lists, at conferences, and countless school and district tech meetings.

So, I'll ask this. I've witnessed that teachers have had the same complaitns for years: No professional development time. No collaboration time where they can discuss kids and curriculum. Is there a VT school that tried what some of 'those' schools implemented with working lunches or innovative schedule changes to accomodate 'real' professional development / collaboration time ? Any models out there of mandatory time after school ? All this failure would seem to dictate that, for lack of a better phrase, we take a "Think Different" approach, or at least an innovative one. Sorry, I know Apple used that, but I've always like the slogan and all it's grammatical oddities. Seems like we've spent an awful lot of time trying to shoe horn in fixes. We can teach math differently. We can offer tech support and prof dev differently.

Damn. This is beginning to sound like a rant. May'be I had too much coffee today afterall.

Using kids in professional development, using different schedules. That's innovative. Just might work too.

Adam

<<< Date:         Thu, 10 Nov 2005 17:37:55 -0500 Adam Provost

Personally, I think it has a lot to do with the style of tech support being
offered in some locations. All desktop security vs open access issues aside
(whoohoo !), I think doing things for people vs empowering (I've always
hated the word empower - how about 'teach' !) them to do it is a big item in
professional development. Certainly, the last thing you want to do to a
teacher in distress who calls in for help is 'teach them a lesson' so to
speak. The key may be to help them address the problem asap, then to touch
base with them again shortly thereafter. Balancing that need of critical
support vs routing things to 'the queue' is an art. It can also depend on if
the user has food readily available in some cases ; )

We had a good deal of success with that method at SB. Takes planning,
patience, and a multi-tasking tech - with stable servers.

After being in tech support for sometime, the most daunting item for me
seemed to be this: Not all teachers run into these problems on the frequency
that tech support people do. Hell, as a tech support person there were
certainly items I ran into that I did 3 years ago that I had to revisit.

Teaching is dymanic, especially with technology. Well, at least we hope it
is. Not everything can be planned. Tech support must be dynamic and
forgiving too. Is it unreasonable to expect techies to be phone techs ?
Electricians ? Cable people ? How about making techies teachers ? To some
teachers diagnosing OS problems is the equivalent of techies dissecting BIG
active directory or NDS problems.

I really doubt we'll be able to teach that calculus teacher how to solve OS
problems because that person may need to solve OS problems once per year -
because they use a mac ? Ouch ! Sorry, couldn't resist.

Tough problem. There are SO many failed, under funded, ineffective
professional dev models out there. Who's got one that really works ? Don't
all chime in at once ; )

Adam

-----Original Message-----
From:	School Information Technology Discussion on behalf of Dave Tisdell
Sent:	Thu 11/10/2005 5:12 PM
To:	[log in to unmask]
Cc:	
Subject:	Re: Hardware Support, etc,

Joanne, 
You brought up a question that I have thought long and hard about and I think there is some truth there. 
Years ago, I taught at Hazen and we had limited support which actually helped me  develop some good computer skills. In fact, I would say there were at least five other people on staff with a skill set similar to mine at the time I left to work in IT at MMU. One of those people became the full time IT director for Hazen. When I arrived at MMU, there were some folks that had some good application skills but none, that I was aware of, that had good troubleshooting OS skills. They had  had someone doing support for them for quite a while before I arrived and they depended on her. I think any of my colleagues that I mentioned from Hazen could have taken over the MMU position when I did had they been so inclined. I would be curious to see if Dave Mitchell (from Hazen) feels like the skill set of the staff has stayed staus quo or dropped since he moved from the classroom  into full time IT since they have someone to count on to fix things when they break rather than doing a lot of!
  it themselves
Great question Joanne!!!
Dave. 

David Tisdell. Music Teacher
Browns River Middle School
[log in to unmask] (e-mail)

>>> [log in to unmask] 11/10/05 1:49 PM >>>
>>> [log in to unmask] 11/10/2005 1:00 pm >>>
Is the opposite true as well? Does this mean that the schools with less
support are developing users with better problem-solving skills? More
risk-taking behavior because there are few alternatives? Are staff and
students in schools with more accessible support getting lazy?

> 
At the elementary schools I work in, I would say that no tech support develop problem solving skills, but rather it makes them not want to use the technology.  

Many teachers are willing to try something if there is someone there to bail them out, but won't take the risk if they have to do it themselves.  Over time, with help, they begin to try more on their own. 

It also is dependent on the person.  Some people are more willing to take risks, some not, some have more demanding classes so don't want to deal with the technology not working while the kids are climbing the walls.   A second person in the room with them is reassurance.

Joanne

Joanne Finnegan, Technology Coordinator
Richmond and Jericho Elementary Schools
(802) 434-2461 
(802) 899-2272 


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