TPACK and Professional Development

Posted: March 4, 2016 in Uncategorized
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So, I’ve been thinking about professional development and the TPACK model. As usual for me, this combination of ideas came about through various conversations with different colleagues that I then put together (the conversations, not the people).

First, I was at a department meeting where we were discussing some changes in courses for the department. The next day I was chatting with a colleague about the meeting, reviewing some of the key ideas, and I had a flash. I realized that with this big a shift some very specific, department-wide PD might be appropriate. (Have I mentioned how much I like to talk to people in my school? I’m not saying everyone is a rocket scientist, and I probably couldn’t have a very lengthy conversation with a rocket scientist anyway, but there are some super thoughtful and interesting folks walking amongst us.) So that’s the first part: targeted professional development.

Then I was talking with my fellow tech coach and one of the other people I talk to as much as possible at my school, @TeacherDebra, and she reminded me of TPACK model, which somehow I had put to the back of my mind.  The model shows the interplay of technical, pedagogical, and content knowledge (full explanation on the website).

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We started talking about using it as a guide for choosing appropriate summer learning opportunities. Here’s how it might work:

  • a teacher would consider his or her teaching assignments,
  • compare those assignments to his or her knowledge base in the technology, pedagogy, and content areas,
  • notice areas of strength and challenge,
  • plan his or her learning accordingly.

Is that not a beautiful vision? I mean, how could we not all become better and better with all that reflection and focused learning?

Finally, I put these two conversations together: department specific needs and TPACK. I think the department chair group, which I co-lead, could use this model with their department members in relationship to professional learning this coming summer. I would like to support the department chairs and their ownership of what is needed in their discipline and with their teachers. Would this tool help them have conversations about professional development? Would this tool help them make some executive decisions about department-wide needs?

Well, we shall see. I am planning to contact the department chairs group (we don’t have a meeting for a while) and follow-up with the individuals that I support more directly. The key points I would like to make are:

  • TPACK model is a productive way to think about the range of learning that might support your department’s progress
  • Could the TPACK model help frame consideration of where your department is changing and if there is pressing need for some department-wide learning (a reading, a web course, articles, A/V or technical training, etc)?
  • Could the TPACK model help department members think about their own needs and strengths?
  • Could a department conversation using the TPACK model allow the group to consider specifics goals in relation to each circle?
  • Could this sort of investigation help department chairs have specific and personalized discussions with teachers and provide some direction for summer learning?

I have always thought that the TPACK model was an effective one, even though I routinely forget about it. I love a good color-coded chart; I believe in the importance of technological knowledge and use in the classroom; I think pedagogical knowledge is critical at every level of education. However, it’s a lot to think about in one chart.

So, I guess my question here is, good idea? Not so good idea?

  1. teacherdebra says:

    First off, thank you for the shout out. Second, I think it is always a good idea to have teachers look with a critical eye and through various lenses at their practice. By bringing to light this idea of TPACK with your department chairs, something they may not have heard about previously, this may allow them to shine a light on the areas they are good at (strength-based is always good) as well as areas they may need some work- aka professional development.
    So yes, a very good idea indeed!

  2. olivemom says:

    I think this chart is a great idea–so often when teachers get to make requests or take surveys about what PD they need, I get the sense that they don’t actually know what they need (since then they still complain about what is offered). This seems like a nice way of supporting people in really reflecting about what they know, don’t know, and need to know. (Rather than just going with their gut, mood, what’s frustrating them in that moment, etc.)

    • mseiteljorg says:

      I know I get stuck in a PD rut sometimes. I go to the same events, which are good, but are not necessarily new to me. Sometimes what I really need is a session on something a little farther from my comfort zone that will be more likely to be new to me. I think the TPACK model is one way to think about the various components of teaching and then to consider areas of strength and challenge.

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