Flexible professional development options reach all educators
In today’s educational environment, where many school districts are facing staffing shortages, districts need to offer multiple types of sessions and ways to engage.
Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference between training and professional development. Training is more akin to integration; it teaches users how to do something technical, like activate a program or log into a system. From the educator’s perspective, the PD should focus on how they can use technology to enhance the learning environment, where appropriate.
Training and professional development should be offered in person to those who want face-to-face interactions. Sessions should also be recorded and delivered asynchronously for those who cannot attend in person or wish to review content after attending in person. Synchronous and asynchronous online options allow all educators to participate in the experience and further their careers while meeting their professional and personal needs.
I started recording sessions and sharing the videos with educators before the peak of the pandemic, at the request of a teacher from a district where I previously worked. The recordings allowed more people to participate and increased the number of educators willing to register for future sessions. Emerging from emergency distance learning, districts now have more technologies and strategies to pursue these types of programs.
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Whether training and professional development is offered online or in person, it is also important to assess how educators are implementing what they have learned; this can be done through online discussions or sharing resources with others.
Targeted professional development is meaningful and effective
In all circumstances, regardless of tenure, professional development should aim to provide the most timely and useful information for an educator’s discipline based on best teaching practices and relevant educational standards. This is important for new teachers and people in states that have changed their regulations and allowed new teachers to begin teaching while meeting their credential requirements, to address staffing shortages. School districts in these states should consider balancing the requirements with the instructional and classroom management needs of these educators.
Districts can achieve this by working across departments, technology education, and district leadership to plan and align professional development efforts. To balance professional and personal needs, districts must consider how many tools teachers are expected to learn, when the PYP will be offered, the current district climate, and more. Districts that engage in this process can create a PYP learning environment for teachers to practice and learn new skills to boost student engagement and achievement.
Drawing on the experience and expertise gained from working with districts nationwide, CDW education strategists and I, along with our global network of education partners, stand ready to guide leaders to that they have a lasting impact without overloading teachers’ schedules and adding one more thing to their plate.
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