As technology becomes an increasingly important component in teaching, it is playing an essential role in professional development. In Education Week’s October publication, “Virtual PD Creates Connections,” Michelle Davis and Katie Ash discuss the benefits of a blended system of online and face-to-face professional development. This hybrid model allows teachers to receive small doses of PD digitally while meeting in person with PD professionals to synthesize the information in a more personal setting.
Online resources such as Edmodo and the PBS TeacherLine allow teachers to share ideas, view videos of expert teachers in the classroom, and take online courses, all according to their own schedules. The short length of these PD sessions allows teachers to handle topics as they need them. The blended approach can improve efficiency and effectiveness. Teachers can view video materials in advance to make their face-to-face time with instructors more productive.
Online resources may be especially useful as schools adopt the Common Core. As Ms. Ash points out, the total number of mathematics standards is small, only 28, but teaching them requires deeper exploration of each topic than most curricula currently provide. And since the same standards will be adopted by nearly every state, common core professional development will be applicable to teachers across state lines. With limited budgets, online forums are a useful tool for teachers trying to stay up to speed on the Common Core. The James B. Hunt Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy is one of several providers of PD resources on the Common Core. The institute has developed a series of YouTube videos featuring background on the CCSS. And many more teacher-targeted curricular resources are being developed to address the standards. What types of professional development does your school use? What do you think is the most effective model for professional development?
No matter which way a teacher turns these days, it seems that a conversation about the Common Core Standards is likely to ensue. In many states, the transition to the new standards has already begun, so any educator involved with the implementation is looking for ideas about how to educate teachers to ensure a smooth transition to the new expectations. As is the trend with many areas of training, it is likely that one of the most effective methods for training teachers is through online professional development.
Many states have promised to support students, educators, and parents through the transition, yet few have actually spent the time or money to do so. Therefore, districts looking for early training opportunities have to dig a little deeper or create their own programs. One source for online professional development that is currently available is the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy’s Common Core Videos.
Here, educators can find a series of vignettes relating to the Language Arts and Mathematics Common Core Standards. Because each video is just a few minutes long, anyone who is interested in learning about the new standards can get an overview with a minimal time investment. Topics include a standards overview, the history of the standards, how they were developed, and more specific details about individual standards.
Clearly, this offering is just scratching the surface of the professional development that will be needed, but it is a great place to start. Teachers are provided with concise, accurate information and can review the content on their own time. From this basic knowledge, teachers and professional developers can begin to cultivate a professional development plan that makes sense. Take a peek at the videos and share them with your colleagues. Then, the next time you have a professional discussion about the standards, you will come to the table with a similar level of background knowledge.