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« Mystery solved? | Main | Reflections on being off the grid »

Helping new staff

I’ve come across a couple of instances recently where a website has great resources, but either people don’t know about them, or don’t know where to find them even if they do. For example, apparently the Department for Education website has some brilliant resources for teaching children with complex needs, but they’re all but impossible to find. So that got me thinking: how will teachers starting in your school next term fare when it comes to accessing ICT-related information? Here are some ideas I’ve had, which I hope may be useful. They do not have to apply only to ICT.

New staff need to be able to hit the ground running

The first thing to do is decide what information new teachers will need. I’ve already covered this in 31 Days to Become a Better Ed Tech Leader -- Day 14: Look at the Docs. The only additional point I’d make now, I think, is that school leaders and managers seem to love writing policy documents, or at least feel there is a burning need to do so. The trouble is that they can all be a bit overwhelming for new staff. So I think a one page summary of all the policies would be quite useful, ie a summary of what documentation there is, and a one line summary of each one. For example, what is the underlying vision for ICT in the school? That should be able to be expressed in a single sentence.

At the very least, you ought to ask yourself this question:

What are the 10 key things that new teachers in the school need to know or have in order to be able to use the ICT effectively and appropriately?

Once you’ve decided what new teachers will need, and the documentation has been created, the next big question is how will the information actually be made available. Here are the sorts of things you might do. The items on the list are not mutually exclusive.

  • Set up a staff-only area physically within the school. I looked at this in an article called 31 Days to Become a Better Ed Tech Leader -- Day 26: Set Up a Staff-Only Area. As well as containing equipment for teachers to use, this room could also house reference copies of all the relevant documentation.
  • Set up a staff-only area on the school’s website (not available to the public) or VLE, where there will be links to online versions of the documents and easily-downloadable versions.
  • Provide staff with a USB stick containing the documents they will need.
  • The digital versions of the documentation could and should be in several formats: PDF, Kindle format, or even smartphone apps.
  • Provide staff with a nice print-on-demand version of the ICT handbook or other documentation. (See 4 Reasons to get published, and 7 reasons to self-publish)

All this doesn’t have to be done at once, because we’re all busy and tired. But I think there should be at least somewhere to which you can point new staff and say “You’ll find everything you need to get going right here”.

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