Many schools have moved their teacher professional development programs online out of necessity, and probably for good, which has created a chance to update the training to suit evolving needs.
Back in the old days – say, more than a year ago – teacher professional development offerings in many districts went something like this: Drive across town at the end of the school day, sit in a room with other teachers and an instructor, and hopefully learn something worthwhile.
But like so many routine school practices, that scenario hasn’t been possible during these COVID-19 times. And given schools’ need to quickly get teachers retooled to teach via remote learning, a new model was needed. Enter online teacher PD (professional development).
Some of us working in district educational technology departments have long struggled to get teacher and administrator buy-in for our PD offerings, often due to conflicting priorities. Because when it came to choosing between helping teachers ramp up a new literacy or math program, or learning how to use a new district learning management system (LMS), the core content area offerings won the day. Fair enough. And even if we developed online training videos and courses, which some of us did, without an administrative mandate, participation was slim.
But the pandemic changed all of that. All of a sudden, teachers really did need to know how to use the district’s LMS, because it was the backbone of their new instructional practices. And they also were compelled to learn the ins and outs of effective video conferencing, and using myriad other tools to engage and interact with their students via remote learning.
So, beginning in March 2020 when the pandemic hit, schools have been scrambling to build, buy, borrow and deliver online teacher PD. As a result, many educators are now wondering why they didn’t go this route long ago. In some districts, teachers can now take asynchronous (self-paced) online PD classes, or access just-in-time, bite-sized videos. And not just for technology classes. Content area courses also need a new venue, so those literacy and math courses are going online too.
And as districts continue developing their online PD offerings – both in synchronous (real time) and asynchronous formats – the courses are becoming more differentiated to meet participants’ needs and skill levels, are better produced, and feature more classroom teachers as instructors.
Since the beginning of online teacher PD, and now with its pandemic-inspired acceleration, much has been learned about how schools can put together a successful online PD program to meet teachers’ evolving needs. And with the influx of new federal relief funds coming to districts, schools have a great opportunity to retool their PD practices, not just for tech-related sessions but for all content areas and topics.
Best Practices for Online Teacher Professional Development
Rethinking Teacher Training During COVID-19: Bite-Sized Digital Lessons. Education Week
4 Key Elements for Designing Remote Professional Learning. Edutopia
How This District Leader Transformed Teacher PD. Education Week
The Benefits of Differentiation in Professional Development. Edutopia
Never miss a story with the daily Govtech Today Newsletter.