Last column, I wrote about how critical the public relations aspect of our tablet PC initiative was becoming. Teachers, parents, and students needed to feel that they were getting accurate and up-to-date information in order for them to accept the idea of such a program. The timeliness of information also helped to quash the rumor mill and to ensure that the information being discussed at the lunch table and in the car pool was as accurate as possible.
The Professional Development Factor
So far, our single most effective public relations tool has been an all-faculty professional development day that took place last February. Since then, I have gotten very positive feedback from even the most reluctant of faculty.
I believe that day was such a success because it was primarily planned and executed by teachers. Unlike previous professional days where the administration told teachers what they needed to do, this day gave teachers the opportunity to have direct input into how they would spend their time.
Teachers on our Learning Unleashed committee met over the course of 4 weeks to identify areas of importance related to our tablet program. These teachers designed the day's schedule, which consisted of full-group presentations, small-group demonstrations, and hands-on workshops. The committee brainstormed topics for demonstrations and workshops, and we approached teachers with expertise in those areas to deliver the sessions. This was a huge benefit. Most of the presenters felt proud to share some area of their expertise and also carried the authority of a practicing teacher. Participants felt that the material was within their reach because the person demonstrating it wasn't a techie but, rather, a full-time teacher just like them.
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