Teachers aim to make instruction more learner centered, so why aren’t we doing the same for educators when planning professional development? What’s the most valuable quality of PD according to most teachers? Personalization. Personalized professional development lets teachers focus on their individual students and classrooms as new challenges arise and new resources become available. Some notable benefits include: ● Specialized training matches the level of individualization offered in other fields. ● Individualized surveys and needs assessments can provide more specific information on a case-by-case basis and meet immediate needs. ● Teacher can focus on building on their own strengths and weaknesses. The benefits of personalized professional development are clear. But how can you implement a customized program in your district? Examples of Customized PD Individual Learning Plans Montpelier School District lets teachers create Individual Professional Development Plans (IPDPs) that help them meet unique personal and district-wide development goals that follow the SMART model: ● Specific ● Measurable ● Attainable ● Relevant ● Time-bound Gamification Games with levels and goals, like this one at Bettendorf Community School [...]
Are you thinking about bringing competency-based education (CBE) to your institution? You are not alone. A 2016 survey conducted by the American Association of Community Colleges found that approximately two-thirds of community colleges and baccalaureate (liberal arts) colleges are in the planning or start-up phases of CBE. While many institutions support CBE programs, they also have concerns about the quality of the learning experience. A common question for academic leaders is, “How can we ensure that our program delivers a quality learning experience that enables learners to achieve the expected competency?” Learners enroll in a CBE program because they expect the learning experience to provide them with the skills or knowledge they need to succeed. Effective learning materials aligned with well-defined course competencies are critical to their success. Before developing learning materials, the development team should map out program-level and course-specific competencies. Once mapped, it is important to evaluate those competencies against quality expectations. The Competency-Based Education Network (CBEN) recently released a set of principles and standards for developing quality CBE programs. The CBEN concluded [...]
The most effective Teacher Professional Development (TPD) programs treat teachers as lifelong learners who want to integrate new curricular methods, content, and strategies into their classrooms. The Learning Policy Institute culled findings from 35 reports to describe the most effective TPD. Effective TPD is: ● Content focused ● Collaborative ● Sustained ● Coaching based ● Ongoing How can you include these elements into your TPD planning? Use the following steps. 1. Incorporate real-world modeling situations. The classroom shouldn’t be the first place teachers use new strategies. Instead, TPD should offer teacher opportunities to model classroom approaches to other attendees. Some examples might include: ● Interactive lectures ● Field or lab experiences ● Inquiry-oriented activities 2. Build in time to let teachers implement lesson plans and receive feedback. The best TPD gives teachers opportunities to try out their newly constructed lesson plans within weeks. Afterward, scaffold in time for feedback on other teachers’ new lessons and rubrics. This peer-to-peer collaboration can also last long after the TPD if teachers are given opportunity and means to share [...]
Take Small Bites and Chew Slowly: The Benefits of Micro-Credentialing Have you heard about micro-credentialing? It’s a new approach to professional development in a smaller, focused format. ______________________________________________________________ How does micro-credentialing work? Professionals complete a discrete, competency-based task. The organization offering the micro-credentialing opportunity can then issue badges, continuing education credits, or other verification of completion. What might this process look like in practice? Let’s say a K12 school district typically offers face-to-face courses for teachers’ professional development. Teachers sign on and attend a number of hours of training and are then awarded continuing professional development, or CPD, credit for participating in those workshop trainings. If that same K12 school district redesigned the learning using the micro-credentialing approach, several components would change, including: ● The time unit would be smaller. It’s easier for busy educators to fit a 15- or 30-minute professional development session into their busy schedules. ● The learning experience is skill based and related to on-the-job tasks. Putting literacy groups into action! ● Teachers participate in a round-robin of 15-minute classroom observations [...]
Education hashtags on Twitter are a powerful way to sort information. The hashtag #studentsfirst has been popular this August as educators prepare to head back into classrooms. Recent conferences such as NPC17 and ISTE17 energized the education community this summer. Providing educators with resources and supports seems to be a surefire way to make sure that student needs are met completely. As the old adage goes, teachers who remember to put their own oxygen masks on first are well equipped for a new school year. What should be in a teacher’s tool kit? A solid plan for classroom management. Whether the students are graduate or kindergarten level, whether the classroom is digital or face to face, building a learning community and establishing norms for communication is important. Many teachers are fans of The First Days of School by Harry K. and Rosemary T. Wong. For digital classrooms—there’s an app for that! Engaging resources for students, mapped to curriculum goals. This is where things can get tricky for teachers. Do engaging [...]
Teacher workloads are immense. Between planning engaging lessons to meet student needs and staying up to date with the latest technology, teachers are in dire need of support. The recent 2017 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Educator Confidence Report highlights some of the teacher needs surrounding professional development and educational technology. "Among the largest barriers to effective education technology integration are lack of time to plan for implementation of digital resources into instruction (46%), a shortage of devices in the classroom (40%), and lack of access to technology-focused professional development (48%)." Digital resources are plentiful. A teacher might sit down to lesson plan and visit a site like https://www.oercommons.org/. Some materials are curated, but teachers still need to filter and search by subject, standard, and grade level. Then the teacher must review the resource to ensure it maps to the lesson objective and is appropriate for the age group. Correlating freely available digital resources to a district curriculum map takes time. What if you had a way to save teachers time and provide students with engaging, appropriate, freely [...]
Use these three steps to encourage learning outside the box.
The Pence play.