Saturday, 23 August 2014

Creating a Class Website Part 2 - Training the Teachers

I was asked to take on the role of a 'trainer' to help my fellow colleagues build their class websites from the template we created. First of all, this terrified me. Having never been in the trainer position before, I wasn't sure how I would be teaching adults, specifically ones I know, respect and work with on a daily basis. Then of course I wasn't sure how people would even respond to our new design and having to relearn a way of doing something they were already doing.

I spent hours learning the ins and outs of the website and creating my own Google Site from our template to ensure I understood how and why things work. It was important that I felt comfortable working within the template provided so that I could communicate to others how to successfully build from the template and help them problem solve when necessary. One of the biggest things I was able to do was to tweak the template as I went so that all teachers didn't have to redo the little formatting changes I found along the way.

The one thing that began to fascinate me as I built my own site was coding. Never before had I really understood the need to code. I simply thought it was something that more 'techy' people than myself used and understood. And yet, there I was trying to change code to make table properties disappear or centre objects, embed gadgets or adding in other features. I became fascinated on how the slightest modification to the coding could make the biggest change to a site. I found ways to do things that I was told weren't possible with some research and determination and was able to tweak my site to make it more functional for myself.  It made sense to me why some people can spend hours coding, creating and problem solving.

Then it was time for the teachers. A little nervous and lack of sleep (due to nerves) didn't seem to bother me as the first group of teachers joined me for the 'beginner' session. We were able to get them set up using the template and  changing the email, editing site layouts, creating their homepage and learning how to add links, images and videos. With patience, a smile and an open forum to ask any questions, together we began building sites for our new classes. I knew that if I could remain positive and calm that my target audience would have a better chance of reciprocating it. I was amazed how the whole session seemed to flow and how teachers were helping teachers next to them. A sigh of relief came over me when the last teacher had left that night knowing that I had succeeded in helping move teachers forward in this process.

The 'advanced' group of teachers was even easier than the first training session as many were familiar with site building. Many similar questions arose as we constructed the sites again from our templates but I was more relaxed this time round and even learned some neat ideas from my colleagues.  There was sharing of what had been used successfully in the past in an informal manner within the table groups. That's the beauty of working in a collaborative environment - you don't always have to know all the answers but you need to be open and willing to listen to the ideas around you.

As we went on to the third group with our 'specialist' training session, it became apparent that some individual specialist teachers required different needs than others. Here lies the beauty of flexibility. We were able to help them adapt to their needs while still maintaining the basic outline of expectations and maintaining consistency between sites. Their site template was quite different than their previous one and therefore more support was going to be needed moving forward. But again, overall the positive attitude towards the sites really helped make it a good session for teachers to learn.

I felt overall it went relatively smoothly.  There are always things that could be improved upon in the future both on the sites and training but feel a bit more confident taking on other challenges in similar roles in the future. It is a starting point but will continue to be a process.  No one was really frustrated with the technology or gave up. Everyone was positive about creating their sites. One of the biggest goals of leading the training was showing people how to do it for themselves and not 'doing' it for them. It's important that teachers (and students) are doing it step by step by themselves and 'the trainer' only guides and supports them through the process. In other words, the only person who touches the computer is the person that owns it. It's one of the biggest things I've learned by watching others lead training sessions about technology and one of the best ways to empower others.

Standing up in front of your colleagues to speak has never been an easy thing for me but I appreciate how supportive and receptive they were to what I had to share. I'm also really appreciative of having a school that is willing to put their faith in me for a project such as this and allowing me such opportunities. At the end of the day, it really is a team effort within a school and we are all there to support each other for the betterment of our students.

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