Many Rhode Island educators are embracing continuous changes in technology and trends in peer-to-peer training to enrich professional development.
“The whole climate of professional development has changed,” said Shawn Rubin, director of technology integration for Highlander Charter School in Providence. “One of the biggest changes is Twitter. It’s become a professional-development engine for teachers.”
Sunday nights at 8 p.m., educators from Rhode Island join the ongoing conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #edchatri.
The project was created by Don Miller, principal at Shea High School in Pawtucket and Alan Tenreiro, principal at Cumberland High School.
“Alan and I have known each other for five or six years and we both appreciate the value of technology and what it can offer us and our teachers,” said Miller, who began the conversation using #edchatri with Tenreiro last spring. They knew of the national “ed-chat” and decided starting one with a Rhode Island focus would be valuable.
They didn’t have to wait long to discover the worthiness of the project, said Miller.
“It’s amazing because it allows us to collaborate with educators throughout the state and all over the world from the comfort of our own home,” Miller said.
The negligible cost of this type of professional development is especially welcomed by administrators and teachers as one way to ease the continuing pressures of tight school budgets.
“It can be done for free. There’s no charge, no cost to participate,” Miller said. “It’s easily accessible. That’s the great thing about technology.”
More than 100 educators usually take part in the Sunday evening chats, Miller said. To give the project long-term value, he archives the Twitter conversations on the website www.edchatri.org/.
Topics archived on the Twitter chat include a longer school day and school year and the continuum of teaching and learning.
Participants include many Rhode Island educators, including a middle school principal in East Greenwich, the principal at Coventry High School, a reading specialist in Providence, a math teacher at Cranston East High School and an English professor at Rhode Island College.
R.I. Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Gist is no stranger to #edchatri.