This year in my school I am instituting a new model of professional development. In years past, it has been the traditional model of one time training and hope it sticks. This year I have total staff commitment to year long development! That is right, all of my teachers have committed to me to be part of a "PLN" personal learning network, for an entire school year. What I have done is interviewed each and every teacher, and placed them in an network that is based upon a general skill assessment.
This school year, 2009-2010, I have 6 different PLN's based upon skill level or participation in a particular technology initiative. I have two beginner networks, one intermediate, one advanced, one for teachers getting smartboards and one for teachers who want to investigate the use of iPod Touches in the classroom. Each network will predominantly share information and data in two places; in the school (in person) and online (Moodle classroom).
The reason for modeling the PLN's this way, was due to the teachers saying that they really wanted training and more of it, yet they did not have any time (even for what was already there). So what could I do? I needed to find a way to increase the amount of professional development that I gave teachers with ongoing practice, support and resources and I needed to take less time than what was already being used for this type of training.
The groupings were easy and I was surprised how willing teachers were to meet with me and look at their particular skill sets. This personal assessment was based on teacher standards that were created by our school's technology committee and administration. Once the teachers were grouped, the platform seemed to fit the bill. By using Moodle I was able to set up a class for each PLN and teachers could check in when they wanted and speak to a group who were at the same level as they were. This would take out the fact that teachers are all at different levels, and some get intimidated if they feel "less capable" than others.
With all of this in place, I am now at the point of building the classes in Moodle and setting up resources. Each PLN will have a Diigo group set up for them to share and save links. I would like to find a few blogs by teachers that seem to fit the path of each group and then let them lead and set their own path.
My goal will be to help keep the PLN's moving forward, encouraging and meeting with participants, going to classrooms and working with teachers during class, and of course sharing ideas that I find in my PLN's.