Staff development is a continuous plan in school that focuses on developing teachers’ knowledge, skills and strategies. The development programs aim at influencing teachers’ self understanding and their behaviors so as to influence the students. This happens because teachers have a direct contact with the students in their daily operations through the process of learning and teaching. The training is reinforced through continuous, classified, formal or informal plans.
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Personal development addresses specific teaching career issues (Rodriguez, 2000, para. 3-7). This paper seeks to explore the essence of staff development and technology change management in schools and also analyze the effectiveness of these components.
It is important for an institution or organization to capitalize on the staff’s abilities and potentials that arises from the shared responsibilities and the use of technology. This is because employees have the ability to improve their skills through self directed programs for development and trainings.
However, whether or not it is an initiative of the school or company to have employees train, the staff has to be committed to learn and explore the learning opportunities. This is the only way in which the goals of the development plan can be achieved.
The initial ability and comfort in using information technology to enhance staff skills and knowledge of content delivery in a learning environment may be a challenge. This is because of the various attitudes that are likely to emerge due to the different attitudes, beliefs and thoughts about the technology in use among individuals. The beliefs highly influence future intentions in the use of technology in the elementary education. Teachers can be given a chance to evaluate their skills against the parameters of the training program.
A staff development practice in a school will foster personal development hence improve the overall performance in the institution. The proof for this can only be measured on improved results and achievements of students. The National Staff Development Council, NDSC advocates the improvement of professional efficiency in the teaching and learning process in order for all students to achieve their optimum results (Thomson & Holloway, 1997, p. 312-314).
Staff development not only aims at enhancing performances in school but also on enhancing workers’ attitudes towards work, positive motivation, creating strong relationships among the teachers and sharpening them on the acquire new skills and knowledge.
Staff development practices
The fact that the training team has common values and long term goals; every member has to tolerate multiplicity and disagreements in order to learn as a group. There is also the need to cultivate essential and quality practices that will help achieve a successful implementation of the staff development strategy.
Study group is one of these quality practices that reinforce the achievement personal development among employees. Teacher trainees can be assigned to look into a particular area where most of them have a problem in teaching discipline. The group carries an extensive analysis on the area through sharing of opinions and seeking clarifications from the instructor and consulting among themselves.
It is one way of strengthening staff-staff relationship. The study group also facilitates sharing of experiences, skills and knowledge hence learning new techniques that will further be used in classrooms to teach the students (Thomson & Holloway, 1997, p.312-314).
In staff development programs trainees coach one other. Peer coaching is another major program that teachers and instructors can undertake in efforts to enhance collaboration among them and overcome their differences. Collaborative practices encourage trust and openness among the teachers.
Peer coaching also help the members to value each other and accommodate their diverse experiences, attitudes and behaviors. More so is because teachers have divergent attitudes and thoughts about change and improvement needful in meeting professional development. Peer coaching promotes teamwork other than working as an individual.
It creates a forum for sharing successful experiences that facilitates career growth and support for colleagues in teaching profession (Rodriguez, 2000, para. 3-7).
The idea of utilizing the teachers’ ability to use technology is not always an easy and one day event. Most learners are often concerned about the professional risks and changes that technology brings to education. This is because the learners must adapt to pressure while using the computer aided instructions and also ensure maximum participation as an individual.
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This to some adults may mean avoidance or even fear while using technology hence failure in meeting the expected results (Thomson & Holloway, 1997, p. 312-314). Some techniques may involve the use of net to carry out research and electronic projections to learn. Self direct learning can also be done though attending seminars in order to enhance an individual’s knowledge and skills.
Staff development approaches for adults
Professional Staff development strategies organize adults into learning communities with the goals of improving learning among the trainees of the program. Teachers, students and the administrators need this form of professional training that is far different from the traditional workshop- driven approach. It may involve an ongoing team that meets regularly on certain days and at a given time with the goal of conducting joint lesson planning and also methods of problem solving. The commitment in the learning process among these learning communities is to adhere to the norm of a continuous enhancement and experimentation in order to enhance their daily work and also achieve the school goals (Rodriguez, 2000, para. 3-7).
My understanding of development approaches for adults have been reinforces due to various factors as argued below.
Adults commit themselves to learning only when the objectives and goals are realistic and meet their needs. Therefore when designing such a professional program, it is important to conduct needs assessment program so as to achieve an effective professional development program.
The belief that learning activities is challenge to adults’ competencies may contravene the professional development approach. This is because they are their own origin of education and will therefore reject learning activities on the belief of attacking their qualifications. The other reason is that these learners have differences in levels of learning experiences, interests, self-direction, and competencies.
Professional development learning must relate to the individual’s day- day activities. If the approach is technical and hard to understand, then the probability of its unsuccessful application is high. The learners must also be given direct experiences and relevant examples so that they can apply the skills in real work (Thomson & Holloway, 1997, p. 312-314).
Strategies to implement this in classrooms should then be implemented to see to it that teachers accept the use of technology with their own abilities. They may design video formulated programs to use in classrooms while teaching. They also need a hand- on trial in order to utilize the acquired skill, develop units, and implement the program by themselves.
To sustain this skill, follow up is need. They get opportunities to participate in an ongoing discussion. They can also reflect on the necessary processes and procedures that bring in the expected change (Rodriguez, 2000, para. 3-7).
The understanding for staff development and technology development has also been reinforced because of the knowledge that there exists a direct connection between the curriculum and technology in use.
If the teachers his students excelling and having improvements, then there is a link. Professional development on technology use needs to illustrate projects on particular areas of the curriculum in use, the skills and assessment competencies. The use of Specific content helps the instructors to analyze, reflect on the ideas and the structure of the project.
Good integrated training programs do not necessarily see the need to use technology in classrooms but also checks on the outcome of its application. There is a relation between staff development in school and educational change. These changes may be in the form of new plans, strategies and or even cross- curriculum initiatives that enhance the school curriculum (Clerk & Mayer, 2007. p.7-28).
Staff development approaches and the use of technology
Learning approach in staff development of adults must be guided by the adult learning theory. The theory asserts that adults require viable and distinct experiences with enough content support, frequent response to the practices done, continuous and sustained follow ups.
Staff development and the use of technology are totally different from the traditional mode of training and education which only carry out workshops. Research shows that teachers comprehend well the content provided to them when reinforced for a long time as compared to workshops which conduct a single session.
The devised staff development strategy undertaken should be a long term based implementation plan. This is because the teachers require an on going support while they develop their skills to obtain the objected skills and knowledge. Single trainings and workshops often results in ineffectiveness, waste of time, money and energy.
Lecture-base trainings must be avoided by all means while developing the skills of an organization’s employees. It is important to note that this paper doe not aim at stating that traditional approaches of professional development did not succeed at but other improved ways of effectively training employees. An instructor must by all means avoid delivering the content of the program by just verbal words alone.
However, a combination of both word and practice must be incorporated for optimum results. Professional development in adult education requires well formulated approaches. Workshops and presentations enhance attainment of new ideas and skills concerning a particular topic by giving direct instructions and also enabled participatory practices. This may be undertaken as the initial step towards attainment of professional development in adults.
This is because the organized workshop acts a vehicle in introducing the participants to the strategies of gaining professional development. It may also helps in introducing the practitioners to the relevant knowledge or skills that they further put hands-on (Rodriguez, 2000, para. 3-7).
The instructor must design a comprehensive and practical development plan to reinforce the learning abilities of the staff. Such a plan requires investment. Regardless of the difficulties at the starting time, the participants must show commitment to the learning process and later move from move from teacher trainees to competent professional with time.
Benefits of staff development and use of technology use in schools
Job rotation in teaching is an out dated and ineffective approach of staff development and should be replace with Computer Aided Instructions (CAI). Computers display instructions when one needs such assistance, play audio on demand. CAI is one of the most effective approaches of staff development among adult trainees.
Unlike CAI job rotation involves rotation of staff through various levels/classes in order to acquaint them with the technicalities at each level. Its efficiency is insignificant (Clerk & Mayer, 2007. p.37). The effects of CAI are significantly noticeable because it allows teachers to put their practice the areas that concern them.
A school’s technology plan should be designed to incorporate professional development and technology use. The reason for this is that the inclusion of technology in the school’s overall improvement plan helps improve learning and teaching processes in school.
The integrated technology in the school curriculum must be sufficiently sustained so as to allow the instructors and administrators continue using technology in learning processes (Thomson & Holloway, 1997, p.312-314).
With technology, individuals get personalized instructions that enable the staff to actively participate in the learning process of their professional development as compared to the traditional job rotations. Technology grants educators diverse opportunities to improve their teaching skills which in turn increase the students’ ability and achievements in education.
Learning and working together produces improved and better results than learning and working individually. This is because technology does not allow interactions rather it permits software socialization and collaboration via real time like discussion boards and emails (Rodriguez, 2000, para. 3-5).
Technology in staff development allows the learners to try out the newly skill acquired during the workshop session, the trainees follow up by applying what they observe in workshop and give a feedback. This comes after the learner has rehearsed the details provided to have the data integrated in long term memory. Feedback approach provides the learners with information and response that relates to their performance.
Incase the learner wants to try out another skill acquired at the first stage then the research or inquiry approach may be applied. This approach ensures that the learners think about their daily operations in relation to the acquired skill. They reflect on their practices over time. On the same line, workshops and seminars can be arranged to discuss needs analysis and then collaboratively come up with curriculum development program reinforcement (Thomson & Holloway, 1997, p. 312-314).
With CAI, the process of learning takes place smoothly without boredom, fatique and impatience that is a common behavior in most ‘traditional classrooms. With Computer Aided Instructions, students receive immediate feedback. It also gives the students the ability to decide on the speed at which to receive instructions and content.
Additionally, after the teachers have gone through staff development trainings using technology, the teachers is saved the energy of moving from one station to another while giving same instructions to different students (Clerk & Mayer, 2007. p.37).
Technological staff development plans provide instructions that are tailored to the learners’ requirements. The learners send their responds to the instructor’s questions, if there is an error on the learners practice problem, the system will sends increased instructions to help the learner solve the problem. This system allows the learners to practice inputting data into the computer hence feedback practice. The practice continuous until they get the right answers as per the instructions.
Contrary to as many may think, there is no one perfect professional development approach. From the discussion, multiple approaches may be integrated to solve dynamic issues related to particular program content and also as per the needs of the learner. The effectiveness of particular staff development program comes as a result of utilizing integration of different approaches to be use for different situations.
Professional development for the staff comes with a variety of factors and not just adoption of one approach. It is important to connect program to the students learning in order to facilitate high –order thinking. The development plan should be designed to incorporate technology use.
The reason for this is that the inclusion of technology in the school’s overall improvement plan helps improve learning and teaching processes in school. The integrated technology in the school curriculum must be sufficiently sustained so as to allow the instructors and administrators continue using technology in learning processes (Rodriguez, 2000, para. 3-7).
During the learning process, there is need to divide the participants into small groups so that they can share, reflect together and finally generalize their learning experiences to achieve the desired results. This is different from the idea of having one individual analyzing, reflecting and evaluating about an idea and then practice the same alone.
Training strategies must aim at passing skills and knowledge to an individual and the knowledge retained, then applied at work place creating for more opportunities to acquire skills. On certain programs, learner may have to keenly observe and master the graphs and words provided in order to use the data for the practice session.
Culture and staff development
Every successful staff training program faces several challenges from the existing cultural differences among the members of the school. The cultural components relate to the relationship between research and teaching and also in the nature of teaching. The context in which Personal and professional development takes place also influences its success.
To begin with school timetable and schedule plans may limit the teachers in securing time for the joint planning. This is because the teachers have class responsibilities that they must fulfill to meet the administration’s requirements. For the set staff development plan to effectively progress and be a successful project the school has to have a flexible program to accommodate teachers’ development that fosters for the success of learning on students (Clerk & Mayer, 2007. p.37).
The other cultural limitation is the leadership system in the school. Principals and heads must support the initiatives for teachers’ development by allocating enough time for a continual learning process. The administration and management must also provide the required resources for the learning programs.
If this is not the case, then it can be said that the leaders are not committed to the staff training session s and implementing the development plan. Successful implementation of an education change plan calls for good practices among all participants in professional development in order to achieve positive students’ progress (Thomson & Holloway 1997, pg.312).
Individual teachers’ development also encounters the culture of individualism. This is a common isolation practice among teachers that protects teachers from criticism and blame. Some teachers tend to concentrate on short time plans in their classrooms and avoiding discussing and committing time for the necessary changes that affect their daily practices. Individualism results into failure collaboration with fellow teachers through fear of criticism and judgments. This affects the process of meaningful feedback, their value and competencies.
Individual attitudes towards the use of technology in education play a major role in determining the results of using technology to improve the staffs’ skills. It becomes a concern to the learners about their ability to grasp the skills of using technology itself while on the learning process.
These attitudes vary among different individuals ranging from generic ‘motherhood beliefs’ to the apprehensiveness of technology. ‘Motherhood’ beliefs question about the positive values that technology brings (Thomson & Holloway 1997, pg.312).
Culture dominantly influences the learner’s choices for the training program. For instance, certain beliefs limit one’s selection of some subjects. To resolve this, training has to be reflective of the educator’s ability to influence the choices of learner’s positively.
Furthermore, culture determines who will take part in what training program. Oppressive cultures that are oppressive to women, limit a woman’s choice of a training program. Thus, the use of peer coaching or study groups of different gender in cultures where women should only learn limits the learning that that the participants of such programs acquire.
These are some culture which can negatively affect any staff development in a school because there is generally lack of commitment for the training program. There are major benefits that accrue to staff training and development that can not be ignored. These benefits surpass the above discussed thoughts, beliefs an attitudes associated with technology in adults learning. It is therefore imperative to ensure that beyond these cultural challenges, the main objective of the professional development program is successfully implemented.
The other idea that emerges in addition to the above discussion is the confidence of teachers of practicing the new skills like computer use knowledge. To all the teachers who use internet to research and later write research reports, the probability is that they struggle with lack of self confidence.
The learners may never be confident about how well they were prepared to practically use technology while teaching. This is a major set back of using while implementing a development strategy to improve the staffs’ pre- service programming skills. This program may also increase anxiety among the group of how they will be using technology in classrooms upon their students (Thomson & Holloway, 1997, p. 312-314).
An effective professional development program is an ongoing process and not a single instance application. Teachers need to continually practice the technology in use comfortably and in a professional manner. Significant changes in the school may take place after several years. This allows for the teachers enough time to comprehend integrated and master the new information and approaches into their daily practices.
It is clear that, an instructor must be able to evaluate the approach he chooses for professional development. This is an intentional reflective practice that any instructor who aims at succeeding must do in order to refine the approach. This is more often done at the presentation stage so as to encourage the educators to reflect on the situation and then formulate other viable solution to the learner’s problem. Hand in hand with this kind of reflective approach is observing the educator through video or class attendance.
Clerk, R. & Mayer, R. (2007). E-learning and the science of instruction: proven guidelines of consumers and designers of multimedia learning: U.S, John Wiley and sons. Web.
Rodriguez, G. (2000). Critical issue: providing professional development for effective technology use. Web.
Thomson, J. & Holloway, D. (1997). Staff development and a culture of collection in a primary school. Teacher development. Vol. 1, No. 2, Routledge: Routledge.