Transforming Teaching and Learning through PD – {a better late than never posting;)}

During Module A discussion, the need for educational technology related professional development for teachers was highlighted as necessary in equipping teachers for technology use in their classroom. The specifications of professional development were not thoroughly described in the discussions, which welcomes Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) detailed explanation of effective professional development using a “learning-technology-by-approach design” (p.1035). This approach incorporates TPCK and focuses “on learning by doing, and less so on overt lecturing and traditional teaching. Design is learned by becoming a practitioner, albeit for the duration of the course, not merely by learning about practice (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p.1035). TPCK encourages professional development in an alternative process than is typical through workshops; professional development needs to be an integration of learning about the technology (content) and learning to use the technology in an authentic learning context (pedagogy). “Standard techniques of teacher professional development or faculty development, such as workshops or stand-alone technology courses, are based on the view that technology is self-contained and emphasize this divide between how and where skills are learned (e.g., workshops) and where they are to be applied (e.g., class- rooms)” (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p. 31). Also key to TPCK, is the learning not of specific programs – software or hardware, but of the underlying principles of technology use. This is essential as “newer technologies often disrupt the status quo, requiring teachers to reconfigure not just their understanding of technology but of all three components [i.e. content, knowledge, pedagogy]” (Mishra & Koehler, 2016, p.1030). Developing a repertoire as described by Wasley, Hampel and Clark (1997) and quoted by Mishra and Koehler (2006) as ‘‘a variety of techniques, skills, and approaches in all dimensions of education that teachers have at their fingertips’’ (p. 45) helps to equip teachers to move from a professional development experience into their classrooms and choose the technology tools that will best meet the needs of their students. This supports Petrie’s (1986) extension of Schulman’s aphorism, “those who can, do; those who understand, teach” (Shulman, 1986b, p. 14) as he describes understanding as needing to be “linked to judgment and action, to the proper uses of understanding in the forg­ing of wise pedagogical decisions” (as quoted in Schulman, 1987, p.14).

The term “transformation” that Schulman (1987) uses to refer to the experience that occurs as content knowledge is passed from teacher to student provides an effective visual image. He describes this transformation as  “the capacity of a teacher to transform the content knowledge he or she possesses into forms that are pedagogically power­ful and yet adaptive to the variations in ability and background presented by the students (p.15). This transformation offers opportunity for individualized learning, teaching for the student rather than at the student, and aligns well with my teaching experience at present:

One example of incorporating PCK in my own teaching is in constructing individualized student learning plans for each of my students. As a distance learning teacher, I work with each student individually rather than offering a standard course or program. Conversations are held prior to the start of the learning year to design a student learning plan that consists of curriculum, resources, activities, etc. that cover the content area prescribed for the student’s grade level, but also adheres to the student’s interests, abilities, learning environment and effective ways of learning. Throughout the year, the student learning plan evolves as necessary, but again with the individual student’s needs guiding the changes. As students share their learning with me throughout the year, I provide specific feedback often suggesting areas that they can grow in their representation of ideas, as well as designing or recommending specific assignments to further their learning experiences. Although the forms of transformation may look different in a distance learning context, the process of moving from “personal comprehension to preparing for the comprehension of others” (Schulman, 1987, p.16) still occurs through preparation, representation, instructional selections, adaptations and tailoring. (Schulman, 1987).

 

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. The Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4 -14.

Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching. The foundations of a new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1)1-23.

2 comments

  1. Hi Jessica,
    I was curious (and exhausted) thinking about creating individual learning plans for each student. As a classroom teacher, I am required to create an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for any students in my class who are deemed exceptional in any area. This exceptionality could take any form. On average I would say I must create about 5-7 IEP’s each year. This includes the creation of goals and strategies, meeting with parents, and reporting on IEP goals on the regular report and the second term IEP. The IEP also includes next steps. I find this to be a daunting task. How many students do you create an IEP for in a distance learning class? Are they reviewed and updated during the term? Are reports based on the student’s individual plan? So many questions 🙂
    Catherine

    1. Thanks, Catherine, for all your questions. 🙂

      At my school, an IEP is only designed for students who are working more than one grade level below their assigned grade level. These IEPs are very specific to the student and evolve throughout the learning year. Adapted IEPs require students to meet the learning outcomes for the grade, but with adaptations i.e. a scribe, speech to text, audio books. Modified IEPs are designed for students who are not able to meet the learning outcomes for the grade level even with adaptations – their IEP may only include a few subject areas.

      My at-grade level students have a Student Learning Plan (SLP) designed for them. The SLP is also quite individualized, but students are all expected to meet the learning outcomes for the grade level in a wide variety of ways. Since the students are learning at home, a lot of their learning is parent-supported on a daily basis. Weekly communication is required, as well as weekly submission of learning samples. Reports are completed three times a year with tracking of learning content and competencies that have been accomplished during the previous term. My school is located in BC, and as the New Curriculum for BC has come into play for this year, individualized and inquiry-based learning is an underlying principal for planning and implementation. The inquiry-based focus has stretched some students this year, but the individualized aspect has been typical.

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