As educators, most of us understand the value of education. For too many Tech Ed Professionals, however, training stops at the University. While earning a degree or certification is an important foundation, most professionals would agree that it does not prepare you completely for a career. This page will give a little insight into what opportunities I have found to be the most effective for my career.
I will discuss the following opportunities for Professional Training:
School– Obviously, for most Technology Educators, Attending a college or university to obtain a degree is the first step.
Professional Conferences– The next most important step after building that foundation is to keep your knowledge current and to learn about the new trends and ideas in Tech Ed.
Local Workshops & Training– Workshops initiated by your county level supervisor or even a casual meeting of other Tech Ed teachers in your area can not only help you learn more, but develop critical professional relationships.
Published Resources– Honestly, in the last 10 years, I think that I’d have to admit that once out of school, the most training I’ve received on specific software packages has been online and in books. I’m almost totally self-taught when it comes to the software I teach.
Obviously, the best place to start learning more about Technology Education or the associated technologies is to take a course at the local tech school, college, or university. Most colleges have evening classes where you can pick up a credit or two in CAD, programming, digital imaging, and other TechEd related careers. These classes are pretty good at teaching you the critical concepts about a particular technology or application, but are generally not focused on applying it in the classroom.
For me, the most important educational experiences have all been at my state and national conferences conducted by the professional organizations I belong to. I can’t recommend the ITEA National Conference enough. Without doubt, this has been the most important event for me professionally. Every year I go, I come back with new ideas, fresh projects, and developments for my current projects to make them more exciting and relevant. I also recommend that everyone attend their state affiliate conference (my affiliate is FTEA). At your state conference you can find out what’s happening in your state concerning Technology Education and you can also make some great connections with people in your state who are actively involved in the profession.
I still remember the first day of my first Annual Conference in Tampa 5 years ago. I participated in a pre-conference workshop on Design and Problem Solving. The influence of this organization’s conference on my curriculum cannot be overstated. At the annual conferences I have received and shared many of the most significant teaching strategies I use on a daily basis. I have attended every conference for the last 5 years and every year come back energized with fresh ideas and challenged by the excellent programs I hear described at the numerous workshops. Every year I come back with an extra suitcase full of materials and teaching strategies to implement in my classroom and develop relationships with peers (and often mentors) who serve as teachers, administrators, district and state Directors, and regional to international committee members all over the world. Not only can I learn from them at the conferences, but we keep in touch with e-mail or through the mail and use each other as sounding boards for our new ideas. Without having these annual gatherings of comitted professionals, I would never have the opportunity to learn from and partner with some of the best Tech Ed professionals in the world.
Since my first year teaching 5 years ago, I have been involved with local professional development workshops and training activities. I have participated in three of the Summer “techEd” workshops, and presented at two of them. The summer following my first year teaching, I participated in the summer workshop, and did a short presentation on the Audio Production module. As a result, I was able to develop professional working relationships and serve as a resource for other teachers in the county that had the same or similar labs. We became “Critical Friends” for each other, observing each other in class, and developing lessons. We began to rewrite the curriculum for the modules, sharing strategies, reflecting on the module projects, and developing new curricular resources for other teachers in the county.
This unofficial, casual team reworked nearly every module in the lab by simply getting together once a month for casual “workshops” on developing the curriculum. We developed new forms for managing the lab and student documentation, and created new assessment tools and resources for students to use in completing their work. We also worked on developing entirely new curriculum using free software from the internet when the funding was not available to purchase new equipment and software. It was an exciting first year, and I found the insight and experience of the other teachers invaluable. Our casual “workshops” after school once a month or so really saved me a lot of time and effort, since the workload of developing the program was split three ways.
This site is being redesigned as I type this paragraph 10 years after it’s first successful iteration. Upon reflecting on the last 10 years, I realize that while the above 3 sources of training were critical in my earliest years, it soon became time for me to grow on my own and to give back and be the trainer. For the actual hands-on training on the Adobe products I teach, as well as all the other software I experiment with and teach with, all of that has been self-taught. Through online resources and printed resources (and sometimes DVD resources), I have learned how to use the programs I teach at an expert level. You can’t rest. No matter how long you’ve been teaching, things always change and evolve in this area of technology. You have to keep up-to-date. Check out the project links section of the website to see some of my favorite resources for the different areas I cover, and google your own. Of course, I also get a lot of great ideas from local workshops, classes, and conferences… but after a while, you’ll find that YOU are your best resource. Just make sure you’re collaborating with other people to keep yourself challenged!
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