Jude Black and Moira Patterson describe the technology-focused professional learning at Green Bay Primary.
Growing teacher knowledge of the technology curriculum in primary
Jude Black: Professional development was a really important part of giving teachers the confidence to strengthen that we had an opportunity to take part in a professional development intervention project. So we were part of Vicky Compton’s team of technological literacy development. It was a research project that was two years long and has been very instrumental in upskilling the teachers.
So we had seven teachers that volunteered to take part in that. They were an inquiry group and they had Moira Patterson work with them so they would have a professional learning group approach where we'd all get together. I took part in it as well, as the Best Evidence Synthesis suggests that the most effective professional development is one where the principals take part as well. So I took part in the PLG and we met regularly. Teachers then went away with the ideas and tried them out in classrooms and then reported back – shared their successes and their difficulties.
We used the explanatory papers to unpack, and also the progression indicators and the other information which was online. We used those as the basis for planning, and we are still doing that going forward.
We also created a management unit position in the school and so we have a technology curriculum leader, and part of their role is to ensure that the technology room is working really well and that the equipment is available and it’s what teachers need.
Moira Patterson: And what I usually did was come in and do a staff meeting and then I started work with the core group of teachers in the first year. And so it was always prior to what they were going to teach – so it was part of the planning process for them.
And then I would move into smaller syndicate groups and work with different syndicates throughout the school, so a smaller group of teachers in that instance. That allowed me to actually be more specific or help them specify what they were going to teach according to the level and according to the theme that they were doing at that time.
One of the best parts about starting off working in the school in respect of the research was that I developed a relationship with teachers over time. In the second year, that core group was added to and a few more teachers came onboard, and so they became part of that team.
But after the research finished, Jude asked me to continue with the teachers working in the school to develop their understandings and to help them plan and develop technological experiences for children. As part of her conversations with Green Bay High School, I’m going to be starting to work with them as well.
One outstanding thing that really came through for me was that when teachers are teaching technology education, they don’t tell the students. And so that’s a really important aspect now that I tend to share with teachers, that they go into the classroom and they say “We’re learning about technology today” – because they don’t tend to do that. They tend to do that when they are talking about maths and science, and I think that’s a really important message that the students need to have.
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