When it comes to communication at schools, sometimes it is done efficiently; however, most of the time, it is not. At the middle school I teach at, we are all strong users of our email. There are days that I receive over 50 emails and most it is useless information!! Because of the use of email, I have a tendency to skim through them so quickly. By breezing through these emails so quickly, I can sometimes miss great information such as new literacy strategies from our school's literacy coach!
Now, email is not the only way to receive new information. There are multiple scheduled meetings and professional development days to fill any free time. The middle school that I teach at requires us to have a PLC (Professional Learning Committee) each week with our content grade level colleagues, weekly team meetings, weekly meetings with the whole team and administration, , monthly department meetings (which I run for the science department), monthly grade level meetings, monthly staff meetings, and 4 required professional development days. Usually, this is the time we are represented with new instructional strategies and 21st century skills.
Along with the meetings, it is the job of team leaders and department chairs to deliver information to the designated staff. For example, it was my responsibility to let all science teachers know about the revised Colorado State Science Standards and provide them with a copy. Then the entire science department went through the standards to create vertical alignment and each grade level is currently working on horizontal alignment as well.
Since I'm a firm believer on using time as efficiently as possible, I chose a couple of options to present new information to my science department. By providing copies of the standards to each of the teacher and sending an email allowed us to save time when it came to meeting as a department. When we did meet, we were able to discuss the standards in detail, ways we planned to align our curricula with the new revisions and vertically align among grades 6-8.
As a presenter, it is important to get all the information to the staff members, but also realize that their time is precious. I think it is great to give them the information before a meeting, them come together as a group to discuss strategies and 21st century skills. I also like to provide examples to teachers as well. Just like we need to model for our students, it is important to model for teachers as well. So, when presenting new information, standards, or 21st century skills, I provide examples of how I would use it with my students or even go through a quick lesson plan. In my experience, I've found teachers really enjoy it when there is active participation...just like our students! I know when I'm successful in presenting information when other staff members have told me how they are using it in their own classrooms.
This January, as part of our required Professional Development days, I will be working with science teachers and vertical articulation. This is an idea of how to bring in technology standards and 21st Century Skills during these professional development days:
Introduction to Technology Standards and 21st Century Skills for Educators