The when, why and how of PD for iPads

One teacher explains that collaboration is key to finding time, and resources, for teaching with iPads

ipad-pdType “professional development for teachers” into any search engine and numerous results fill the computer screen. Type in “professional development for iPads” and the results are more narrow and, in my search anyway, not at all what I need. So how do educators find what they need when it comes to teaching with iPads, apps, and all that conjures up?

In my case, I did what we all do. I turned to my peers for ideas and relied on my own experiences. We as teachers are each other’s greatest resource and as the old teacher saying goes, “beg, borrow, and steal.”

I’m very thankful that my students have iPads, and I love watching them become completely absorbed in learning while using them. But I’ll be honest. I need and want professional development for them. My time is valuable and my learning should be held at the same importance as my students. So, what do we do? We collaborate and find what’s best for us. Just like our students we learn differently, so we need to seek professional development that best fits our learning.

I believe the general consensus among teachers is that if we had meaningful professional development for iPads we would be more comfortable using them in our classrooms. Some great advice that was given to me at a technology conference is that we will never be proficient on every app or every device. Each day something bigger and better is being developed.

Pick one or two things and become proficient using those. Please understand that the experiences that I’m drawing from is mine and my peers. By no means are the following ideas the only and most effective ways. And of course, if anyone has any suggestions don’t be afraid to share!

(Next page: the when, why, and how)

When? Our planning periods are filled with grading papers, fighting with the copy machine, returning phone calls, attending meetings and the occasional but, much needed, five minute breaks. When do we fit in the time for professional development? Most often professional development occurs on our own time and through opportunities outside of our schools. Attending in-services, technology conferences, and various online resources are some of the best options for teachers.

Why? The better questions to ask is why not? We as teachers should never stop learning! Our students live in a world where information is a finger tap away. If we want our students to take us seriously then we have to take technology seriously. Besides, there are a lot of really cool technologies available. Our job as teachers is to prepare our students to be contributing and successful members of society. Let’s face it we didn’t chose education because we hated learning. We chose it because we love learning!

How? How is the professional development going to be presented? If sitting in a large room filled with people listening to a speaker read from a power point or listening to a sales pitch is your preferred learning style then I’m happy for you. This however, does not work for me. I want to sit in a small group and have a teacher and/or students show me how to use an app and discuss the pros and cons, the benefits, the standards that I can correlate with it, and ways to incorporate it in my classroom. I want to know that my students’ time using the technology is of great quality.

Another great option is to use social media. Make connections with other teachers, companies and professional learning communities through Twitter (try hashtag #1to1ipadchat). Connect with app makers and other companies via Facebook and Edmodo (where you can join company groups, or groups of likeminded teachers). You will be amazed at what you can learn. There are also great websites from which you can gain ideas and insights.

Now, that we have an idea of when, why, and how, it’s time to create a battle plan. Research, talk to your co-workers, use social media, and just try something new. Yes, the technology world is vast and can be overwhelming and intimidating. Have faith in yourself like you do in your students. Join together with other teachers within your school or district and create opportunities for teachers. The sky is the limit. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain!

Stephanie Tow is a Kindergarten teacher from Gadsden, Alabama, Apple products lover, and a life-long learner.


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