Written by Rachel Brujis, BSD Education
Did you know that 79% of teachers that use BSD have no experience with coding or teaching technology? We design our programmes specifically for these teachers to get technology into the classroom so kids’ tech exposure is not just confined to an hour a day in a tech or computer science class (don’t get us wrong though, we LOVE these types of classes!). This way, it’s more similar to real-world where technology is entwined into every part of our daily life.
We also believe that every teacher is capable of teaching students the basics of technology and coding, at the very least. So how does it work in practice? Based on our experience, here are five key take-aways on designing a PD programme that works.
- It is on-going. Rather than a one-off workshop, we work with schools to embed regular professional development in teachers’ schedules throughout the term. This allows for spacing, and creates opportunities for application, reflection and improvement.
- It is differentiated. We work with schools that range from private schools in Hong Kong to public schools in Philadelphia so we have a lot of experience working with teachers with different backgrounds, cultures, languages and experiences. We tailor our PD to make it relevant in terms of context, while still emphasising the core skills that span borders.
- It uses innovative technologies. Just like students, teachers want an opportunity to use the latest technologies and tools. We always aim to bring in the latest technologies whether in software or hardware so that teachers can see what is possible, even while we build up their basic underlying technical skills.
- It focuses on the big skills. We know that technology will change, so in addition to the core coding skills, we also focus on the overarching computational and design thinking approaches we want students to learn. This way, even as the underlying technology changes, the objectives and many of the teaching techniques stay relevant. Our goal in every project is for students to use an approach that includes inquiry, planning, teamwork, iteration, empathy and design; and in this context, be able to figure out what technology is required to accomplish their goals.
- It builds a community of practice. We know that we can’t teach everything in one (or even many) professional development sessions so also actively work to build a community and get We work with a small group of interested early adopters, and focus on training and nurturing them to build their confidence. This helps them become internal experts and champions that push each other to try new things and act as informal mentors to new teachers that want to get involved.
Ultimately we want classrooms to be forward looking and interesting, so our teacher training has to live up to the same bar and we are always pushing ourselves to do better.