In my role as the Instructional Technology Coordinator for my school district, I develop and deploy technology-based PD for the 850 teachers in my district. I provide one-off PD workshops, semester-long academies, PLC collaboration, just-in-time digital trainings and more. I love working with teachers because it keeps me close to the classroom and, after all, I am a teacher at heart.
The fact that developing a communication plan is paramount to any organization's success is not lost on me. In fact, I feel strongly that one of the most important parts of my role is communication including communicating the vision for technology's role in my district, communicating with educators before, during, and after professional development takes place. I think a lot about and have the best way to communicate my message. Below are a few of the ways I connect with teachers in my district to share my message and communicate before, during, and after PD has take place.
Below are some of the methods I use to communicate with the 850 teachers I serve. My hope is that sharing these communication methods will help me reflect on my practices and help others ideas on how to increase communication with the groups they serve.
It's no secret that I LOVE Twitter. I love the relationships I've been able to build over the past 7 year, I love the ideas and resources that I can find from scanning my Twitter feed, but most of all, I love how easy Twitter makes it for me to share resources and communication. I can easily sit down on a Sunday afternoon and schedule out tweets of resources, encouragement, and implementation ideas for an entire week and not have to think about tweeting as I get caught up in the busy week.
I also useIf This, Then That to automatically tweet selected blog posts to my account as soon as the author publishes a post. This does a few things for me: 1. it helps keep me active on Twitter (or at least helps me look active on Twitter); 2. it helps me share innovative teaching strategies; 3. it helps me support educators whose work I really respect.
The downside to Twitter is that I only reach a small number of my teacher, even though the connections I make often yield great results.
On a large scale, I use my monthly newsletter to communicate with teachers all around the district. My newsletter typically shares a message about the current reality of technology in the district, reminders about procedures, upcoming events, etc., and a tech tip. I also try to include guest blog posts by teachers in the newsletter whenever possible to share some of the exciting things happening in classrooms around the district.
This is a great way to communicate because because the newsletter gets sent out to staff district-wide via email, so I know that all teachers are given direct access to its content. To create my newsletter, I use Smore. It gives me the opportunity to see analytics and to quickly put together a visually appealing newsletter.
Each semester I teach two after school, semester-long workshops called Chrome Academy where I work with groups of teachers on best practices of integrating Google tools into their classrooms. Since cohorts only meet bi-weekly, communication and collaboration in between meetings is of paramount importance. Google Classroom makes this ongoing communication a breeze! Using Classroom's Schedule a Post feature, I can schedule reminders, discussion board posts, and activities to post to classroom and send an email to participants at strategic times throughout the week leading up to Chrome Academy. I also utilize Classroom to schedule the session's agenda, slide deck, and sign in sheet to be released an hour and a half prior to each meeting to serve as a reminder about that night's class.
Automated Follow-up Emails
When I work with groups on a monthly basis or after one-off trainings, I like to follow up with participants every few weeks to see how the classroom implementation of the training has been going. This is always a great practice and an incredibly important part of the the learning process, but we all know how work often gets in the way of getting work done.
In order to streamline the follow-up process, I like to have participants sign in to every training on a Google Form so that I can use that form to generate automatic follow-up emails a week, two weeks, or even a month after the original training has taken place. Once participants have signed in via the Google Form, I like to use the Google Sheets add-on formMule to send a personalized-looking email to all participants after the event to follow-up. Once the email template has been created, I just set a calendar reminder to run the add-on at the desired time(s) and follow-up emails will be sent to all participants with just a few taps of my trackpad.
District Edtech Advisory Team
Once each quarter, I meet with my district's edtech advisory team, a group of educators that represent every school and teacher group in my district. During this 90 minute meeting, team members have an opportunity to get updates on technology initiatives around the district (with the expectation that they communicate back to their buildings) and provide feedback from their buildings about technology rollouts, purchases, and upcoming initiatives. This is one of my favorite teams to work with because they help me get a snapshot of the thinking and priorities of teachers around the district. This also gives me one more opportunity to share my message with educators around the district.
None of the communication methods I use are revolutionary in any way; however, each of them serve a specific purpose and help to bridge the gap between the teachers I serve and the message I have to deliver. Where do you think I'm missing the mark? How do YOU communicate with the teachers you serve to share your message and follow-up on learning? Share your thoughts in the comments below.