Pedagogy / Professional Development

Professional Development and Zones of Proximal Development

Any school that is beginning a 1:1 program, or, for that matter, using technology at all, should know the importance of professional development in creating a cohesive, unified and successful program. Teachers should have regular exposure to not only the technology hardware and software, but to the philosophy and pedagogy that should be at the forefront in any good classroom (with or without technology).

Schools need to develop cohesive Professional Development plans for their teachers and staff so that all adults in the building are thoughtfully engaging with technology. However, as we all know, teachers come to technology with a wide variety of experiences, and PD appropriate for some is not appropriate for all. I can’t imagine what it might feel like to sit in a PD session on creating scripts for Google Spreadsheets if I was a teacher who was just starting to understand email.

This is why it is important for technology leaders and administrators to create “Zones of Proximal Development” within their faculty. Teachers should have regular meeting time to meet with a cohort of other professionals who are within that range of development, so that no one feels bored by the discussion or left behind. Within these groups, even those teachers who do not have the experience or skills of the high flying tech-savvy teachers will have the opportunity to teach what they do know to teachers who are within their zone.

With these professional development cohorts, teachers might be more likely to ask questions of one another or provide assistance to those they feel speak the same language. While there are numerous logistical decisions to be made in terms of topics, oversight, guidance, etc., creating these Zones of Proximal development will likely do more to assist all teachers to improve their pedagogy. It’s the first step of a long process, but one that will allow a faculty to grow collectively, rather than through serendipity.

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