Lifelong learners. That’s a basic mentality important for all of us. I know it is hard to tell that to my teenager, though. It is true. It doesn’t have to be school-related, although many choose to continue with more traditional learning through higher education. Even if you are learning something new related to home improvement, decorating, or even some new craft, we are learners. As educators, learning is a must. We have to keep educating ourselves to stay on top of the latest trends related to education. When you add in the 21st-century learner and technology, it becomes vital that teachers embrace lifelong learning. Aside from learning from free online courses provided by ivy league schools, professional development is one of the best ways to grow. More importantly, teachers, who have professional development several times in a school year, want good training, not something that we sit through to check off a box.
This week, I am continuing to look at ISTE 4.5, but more specifically at ISTE 4.5.A, “Design professional learning based on needs assessments and frameworks for working with adults to support their cultural, social-emotional and learning needs” (ISTE). I wanted to ask what makes good professional development (PD) related to this element, especially with being an ed tech coach while considering the SEL part of PD? I don’t want people to be bored during professional development, nor do I want them to think the PD was a waste of time, which prompted me to research what type of PD is best? What constitutes good PD? Was it because teachers had a good time? Was it because teachers were able to participate? Or was it because teachers were facilitators?
I found two resources I liked that I feel were necessary for answering my question(s). One article was from Edutopia.org titled,
“6 Things to Consider When Planning Professional Development.” I have to admit; I am always drawn to a title with a list. Oh, so there are six things I should consider? Okay, I am curious! Anyway, the author Danielle Mancinelli lists them as:
- Survey teachers
- Offer choice
- Offer opportunities for teachers to facilitate PD
- Acknowledge teachers’ well-being
- Incorporate collaborative protocols and practice times
- Include extension times.
I like Mancinelli’s list because her ideas are practical and can help ensure that PD is excellent and worthwhile. I won’t go into details on each of Mancinelli’s points (some speak for themselves), but one thing she notes is, ” Simply asking teachers what they would like to learn can go a long way toward making PD more valuable for your staff.” Numbers 1 & 2 help support that statement. Sending out a survey and offering choice is key. I also appreciate that Mancinelli added #4 because it helps with a teacher’s social and emotional learning needs. I think one practical step, and some may disagree, is allowing teachers to vent in some way. Maybe allowing them to say what frustrates them about their job, or PD, or whatever, will help them move past those things and open themselves up for a more productive learning environment–just don’t hang out in that area too long! I should also mention, before moving on, that #5 is important in andragogy (teaching adults). Valamis.com notes, ” . . .the instructor should create a space that welcomes collaboration” (par.5). Colleagues need to collaborate!
While Manicelli’s list is suitable for all kinds of PD planning, I also found an essay written by several authors which might be better suited for PD related to ed tech. The essay titled “Technology, Coaching, and Community: Powered Partners for Improved Professional Development in Primary and Secondary Education,” stresses the importance of technology education for teachers in an age such as this. The authors point out that many teachers are not equipped to create/plan technology lessons for students. The solution they offer is, “Coaching, combined with communities of learning, is a highly effective job-embedded PD model” (2). They further provide three ways to achieve the effective PD:
- Delivered through a coaching model, and
- Enhanced by the power of community and social learning.
When teachers are in PD where technology is used, they will begin to see and recognize its value in their classrooms. It also allows the facilitator to model best practices related to ed tech. Then, teachers can move into peer coaching to work in a more intimate setting with their community. Many people benefit from a smaller group where they can problem-solve together.
These resources are great for offering beneficial professional development in some applicative ways, which helps get buy-in from teachers who must participate in PD several times a year. To help you get a jumpstart on planning your next PD, here is a survey example you can use to gauge the needs of your school’s staff:
Adult learning theory: What works best in 2022. Valamis. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.valamis.com/hub/adult-learning-theories#self-directed-learning
Beglau, M., Hare, J. C., Foltos, L., & et, al. (n.d.). Technology, coaching, and community – ri-iste.org. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.ri-iste.org/Resources/Documents/Coaching_Whitepaper_digital.pdf
ISTE standards: Coaches. ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-coaches
Mancinelli, D. (2020, September 16). 6 things to consider when planning professional development. Edutopia. Retrieved February 6, 2022, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/6-things-consider-when-planning-professional-development#:~:text=This%20includes%20practice%20time%20with,%2C%20and%20self%2Dreflection%20opportunities.