Tips for Tech-Savvy Professional Development

tech-savvy professional development
(Image credit: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

Mike Arsenault is a self-professed “techie” who shares his passion and enthusiasm for professional development with educators in his district and others. He’s worked for 17 years in the Yarmouth Schools district, seven of those as Director of Instructional Technology. He was honored with the Best Example of Professional Development during the recent Tech & Learning Regional Leadership Summit in Massachusetts. 

He shares best practices and strategies for tech-savvy professional development. 

The Best PD Is Built On Collaboration  

A lot of the focus for Arsenault’s team is collaboration. The work he does is possible thanks to the support he gets from the technological integrators with whom he works. “Their role is really about supporting teachers with integrating technology into their classrooms,” he says. “So, it's kind of like a coach who supports them and does professional development.” 

Arsenault’s district serves more than 1,700 students, all of whom are part of Maine’s one-to-one device initiative, which makes technological integrators’ jobs that much more important. He says that his team tries to find ways to bring in the technology to model the types of things they want to see in classrooms.

Empower Teachers 

A key to the success Arsenault has had with PD is the way his district empowers teachers. The teachers plan their faculty meetings and lead the PD efforts. However, Arsenault’s team plays a crucial role. “Tech integrators are part of the building leadership teams. So as these faculty meetings are getting planned, the integrators are involved with that,” he says.

Incentives are provided for teachers to utilize technology in instruction. Each summer, teachers take courses that will help them throughout the upcoming school year. “The summer courses that they take are not just for innovation and implementing something new in the fall,” he says. “They also get credit toward tenure and promotion and getting salary increases.”

Work With Industry Partners 

Arsenault’s district is fortunate enough to have relationships with companies such as Canva, Kami, HP Aruba, Apogee, and a host of other organizations that offer software and platforms for educators. 

The training provided by solution providers is not limited to teachers as the technology integrators themselves receive training from a variety of industry professionals. “I've been connecting our integrators’ group with a number of our vendor partners this year to do some training-the-trainer sessions,” Arsenault says. These sessions and similar ones help Arsenault’s team identify better ways to utilize tech in classrooms.

Arsenault also hosts “lunch and learn” events during which his team spends half days, or full ones, working with companies in edtech. 

Share What You know

Arsenault does not limit the benefits of his work to his district. He is open and sharing with his colleagues throughout the state of Maine. This isn’t just the right thing to do, it can also benefit Arsenault’s district. 

For example, when it seemed as if budgetary constraints would make it impossible to get a coveted keynote speaker for a conference, Arsenault got creative. He asked his superintendent if he could open up the event to other districts. One took them up on their offer, and it was mutually beneficial for teachers to share what they were doing in their classrooms with their colleagues, which extended the PD being offered.  

“Sharing is what we do,” Arsenault says, adding that there is no competition when it comes to educating children. “Everything is for the betterment of students.” 

Ian Peterkin

Ian Peterkin is a writer and educator. He has taught at universities in America, China, and Dubai. He has an MFA in creative and professional writing from Western Connecticut State University. His work has been featured in Rio Grande Review, Helix, Wagner Lit, Flare: The Flagler Review, The Pointed Circle, Tenth Street Miscellany, Soliloquies, Noctua Review, The Fourth River, and elsewhere.