Keep the Ball Rolling

Proposal for Departmental Technology Mentors

[I recently had the opportunity to share this proposal with faculty at another school, and decided to add it to my blog so that I have don’t have to go looking for it elsewhere the next time! This was originally written in early 2006, and was updated to reference conferences scheduled during 2010.]

Introduction

As of December, 2005, nine faculty have offered ten Faculty-to-Faculty sessions attended by 56 participants, with three more faculty scheduled to offer two more sessions during the winter term. The majority of these sessions relate to technology and all of the sessions have been a success for exposing colleagues to various programs and, more importantly, for sharing methods, ideas and discussion geared to implementing those program within their classes. The proverbial ball is rolling. We have faculty teaching and sharing with others, both within and beyond their disciplines. What follows is a proposal for building upon this program; for keeping the ball rolling.

Proposal

Faculty respond positively when they are in sessions led by colleagues. There is a sense on the part of faculty that if another teacher can do something in their class, then it is possible to do it in my class. We have seen from the Faculty-to- Faculty sessions that teachers are eager to attend in-house sessions but would like increased exposure time and improved scheduling for the sessions. Thirty minute lunch sessions turn out to be useful for exposure and discussion but not for lesson planning and learning. Hour-long after school sessions turn out to be appetite whetting, instilling desire for follow-up sessions. Scheduling being what it is, Faculty-to-Faculty is excellent for providing exposure but insufficient for providing in-depth follow up and implementation.

A natural path is to continue Faculty-to-Faculty and build upon it with departmental technology mentors. Within each academic department a faculty member would become that department’s Technology Mentor. Mentors could be identified through a simple application process where they self-select themselves by signifying their interest, or they could be approached by a department head or other administrator. Mentors would receive compensation, separate from their salary, for a one-year commitment. This commitment would include a number of responsibilities as delineated below.

• During the summer each mentor will attend the Building Learning Communities conference or a similar conference.

• At the following opening faculty meetings each mentor will provide a Faculty-to-Faculty session for their department to share an overview of the conference, explain their role for the year, and set department goals. These goals will include how the mentor will help the department to rethink curriculum and implement aspects from the conference or explore other areas of technology.

• Each mentor, in conjunction with other members of their departments, will provide workshops on Professional Development Day in the spring. A short portion of that day will be school-wide sharing so that everyone knows what has been taking place in all departments. A larger portion of the day will be devoted to the workshops as planned by the mentors and those assisting them.

• Throughout the year mentors will meet with one another to share what they are doing and provide support for one another. In addition to these face-to-face gatherings, support and sharing can include other mediums, such as blogs. I will be available throughout the entire year’s process to provide support for all mentors and facilitate school-wide sharing.

• During the course of the school year each mentor will offer one school- wide Faculty-to-Faculty session.

Implementation

Timing is always an issue as there are deadlines both at school and for conferences. For instance, prior year’s Building Learning Communities conferences have sold out early. If we are to implement a Technology Mentor program and use the conference as the kickoff, the process needs to get underway with a determination of how we want to identify potential mentors, then move ahead with doing so, formalize our program, and register faculty for the conference. As the lyrics to the 1960’s Jay and the Techniques song goes: Keep the ball rolling, keep the ball rolling…”

Possible Conferences for Summer 2010

Building Learning Communities, July 11-16, Boston, MA

EdTechTeacher Teaching with Technology Workshops, MA
Most of these workshops are multi day and cover History, English and LA, Science, Geography, among others.


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