Coulter Lewis: Bringing a Learning Development Specialist to your classroom

December 13, 2018

Professional Development on your terms

When I was teaching in the classroom, Wednesdays meant a few things: hump day, chicken burgers, and after-school PD. I was a new teacher, keen to learn everything and test it out with my ambitious 8-year-olds. I would rigorously write notes, ask questions, and immersive myself. I felt confident and ready to deploy the new tech with my students. Then reality would hit—student logins won't work, a device won't turn on, I forget the one important aspect of the PD, the internet is slower than normal...
These are things that all elementary teachers have experienced at one point or another when integrating technology. The classroom management struggle is real!

There are ways to smooth out some of those issues, and it has to do with how PD is delivered. At one point, I was provided a Readers and Writers workshop where our facilitator ran a session, then followed us directly upstairs and demonstrated exactly how to integrate the program. She returned a week later to support with a follow-up session to ensure I felt comfortable using the program with my students. This made me feel much more comfortable creating our routine and helped me see first-hand how to achieve curriculum objectives.

I was excited to follow this format as I moved outside the classroom and began my own PD  work with Microsoft in Education Canada. Our Learning Development Specialist (LDS) team has begun to bridge that gap of PD and the successful integration of Microsoft education tools into the classroom. Educators can now bring free  Microsoft workshops to their school, then request supplemental classroom support from one of our team members.

"The idea of having a Learning Development Specialist to support the implementation process can alleviate any of the “what if” questions we often ask ourselves when utilizing new or unfamiliar technology."

These extra hands on deck not only assist with classroom management, but augment the understanding of how Microsoft education tools can be leveraged by educators and students alike. The idea of having an LDS to support the implementation process can alleviate any of the “what if” questions we often ask ourselves when utilizing new or unfamiliar technology. A great example is our current work with the Grand Erie District School Board out of Brantford, Ontario. We've now reached over 125 classes across more than 20 schools. New and follow-up session requests continue to come in, and we can clearly see the success of our initiative.

Now that you have the entire LDS team ready to support you and your students, it doesn't have to be a daunting task when integrating new technology. As former classroom teachers, our team also loves to get back into the classroom and work directly with students. It's a passion we share as educators, so don’t be shy. Next time you're looking to brush up a skill or try out a new tool, bring us in to support your teaching!

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Coulter Lewis one of three Learning Development Specialists for Ontario. Meet the entire cross-Canadian team, and find out who serves region on our blog. You can book free sessions with an LDS at microsoft.ca/education. Find free online courses, resources, and connections with other educators at the Microsoft Educator Community.

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