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Integrating Virtual Professional Development in Schools

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Rural, suburban, and urban schools alike face a variety of similar and disparate challenges when trying to implement professional development in their school communities. Bringing in high-quality professional development workshops may pose a challenge. Of course, schools should always first rely on the expertise and brilliance within their teacher community, but what happens when new educational trends develop outside of the staff’s knowledge base? Depending on a variety of factors, schools may not be able to hire someone to conduct a workshop live.  Cost, travel expenses, and availability of nearby experts may prohibit this as an option for certain districts. Utilizing current technology provides schools with options around superior synchronous professional development as never before. 

Live PD Virtually

Recent exposure to meeting with teammates homebound do to stay at home orders nationwide has given teachers the experience of using video communication tools such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype.  As a result, teachers now understand the effectiveness of virtual communication and are more open to exploring the features and opportunities that arise with using video communication tools. Therefore, If the school budget doesn’t allow for travel expenses to bring in a PD specialist, then see if the presenter is willing to use virtual conferencing. A presenter can host a workshop for teachers from their location to a classroom in your building or even to teachers based at home. Presenters can host content and lead group activities by sharing workshop materials in advance while school teachers collaborate in-person or virtually. This allows the same level of high-quality professional development that you were expecting at a fraction of the cost. 

PD On-Demand

By choosing an on-demand PD platform for your school, teachers can access quality professional development at any time. This allows schools to create opportunities for both independent growth and staff collaboration ultimately building a culture of learning district-wide. 

With on-demand professional development videos, teachers can choose topics that are singularly important to them both personally and within their area of certification. Teachers can expand on their classroom management skills, course knowledge, and instructional strategies during time devoted by administration or independently outside of school. Many schools are encouraging their staff to create Professional Growth Plans at the beginning of each school year with their principal or instructional coach. While creating the plan a teacher reflects on areas for improvement, which then directs the focus for professional development in those areas throughout the rest of the school year. Having on-demand access to educational content allows teachers to focus on their professional craft at their own pace anytime, anywhere.

Building capacity by offering collaborative professional development is an effective strategy many districts use to propel the entire community forward. Planning Lunch and Learns for grade-level teams, content area departments, or building leaders is a great way to provide professional development throughout the year with little instructional time lost. Using the online workshops provided from your PD platform, teachers can all watch a professional development at their leisure before coming to the Lunch and Learn. Once assembled the group can meet to discuss findings, implementation, and potential impacts on future school initiatives or classroom teaching strategies. Lunch and learns can be held on one topic over time or happen monthly each with a different area of focus.

Additionally, school administrators can leverage their online PD platform by asking all staff members to complete an online course prior to a faculty meeting. Allocate time within the meeting agenda to discuss the PD and how it impacts the faculty as a team. By providing questions for teachers to reflect on prior to the meeting, school leaders can deepen the group discussion and allow for tangible feedback on student success. 

Expansion of Online Collegiate Courses

COVID19 has affected education at every level from primary schools to universities worldwide.  As a result, many online universities have expanded their online courses to students and community members alike. This means content specifically designed for Educators is available as it never has been before. If a small demographic of teachers in your school is interested in furthering their development of Trauma-Informed Instruction, find an online course or program that can be accessed by your faculty. If the budget allows, schools can split the cost of the course with teachers provisioning more opportunities for teachers to collaborate. Then, teachers can meet at a regularly scheduled time outside of instructional hours and complete the course together.  If the course leads to an endorsement or certification for teachers, even better! This will help cultivate an impactful team of leaders within your school armed and ready to lead this new initiative in your building.

Due to the ever evolving enhancements in technology, schools have expanded opportunities to incorporate high quality professional development for full staff development. The flexibility and convenience of online learning options supports schools in fulfilling their continual improvement missions.

Clerisy is proud to offer research-based professional development for Educators by Educators available to school communities and individual teachers nationwide. Visit our Schools page to learn more about Clerisy, our services, and how we can help enhance your school’s current Professional Development plan. We look forward to the addition of live, personalized school workshops in 2021 to our current services.

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