When I started teaching in the early 90s, I was an eager and very green third grade teacher ready to change the world, one class at a time. My colleagues and I worked hard to build a learning community that met the needs of our students, no matter their circumstances or the resources at our disposal (or lack thereof).
Since then, I have served in various roles in public education and the private sector and have witnessed innovations in curriculum, instructional design, classroom design, and more. But amid all this change, one area has remained relatively static in public education. When it comes to training and developing teachers, we have been letting opportunity to leverage technology pass us by. Instead of a place to break new ground and match the demands of the modern classroom, professional development programs remain a pain point for teachers.
More than half of teachers have expressed wanting to leave the profession, with many citing a lack of quality development and support as a contributing factor. Teacher PD feels obligatory, generic, time-consuming, and for many, out of reach.
So, what can we do? I propose three ways to address the professional development needs of teachers today:
Increase Teacher Choice
As a former principal, I know that data and district mandates can determine the focus and timing of professional development. The increased focus on social-emotional learning as we emerge from the pandemic is a great example school and district PD requirements. Administrators are right to equip their teams with SEL trainings and resources, but teachers also face myriad challenges unique to their classrooms that aren’t being met in the moment.
According to a 2014 study by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 38 percent of teachers cited “learning that is not customized enough” to the content they teach and the skills they need as a barrier in their professional learning. However, teachers who choose all or most of their professional learning opportunities are more than twice as satisfied with professional development as those with fewer options.
Related:AI’s pivotal role in authentic PDIs your PD missing this key element?
Author Recent PostsDarren Reed, Head of K12 Professional Development, Stride, Inc.Darren Reed is head of K12 Professional Development at Stride, Inc. Latest posts by eSchool Media Contributors (see all)
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