Professional Development and Online Learning
With the all-too-quick change to Online Learning for the majority of districts throughout the country and world, many teachers have had to learn best practices for teaching students through online learning and what they can do to better facilitate distance learning.
For many, this is a steep learning curve as most have never had to teach online before. Districts are finding the need to deliver more professional development resources to meet the needs of teachers – and ultimately students – that they have never had to consider before.
In this article, professional development is brought to the forefront as online learning has become the instruction method of necessity, if not choice. Here are some key take-aways:
Every Teacher is Different!
Professional development needs to be tailored to all types of teachers. While some may be comfortable with picking up technology quickly, others may find it difficult. Teachers need to be able to ask questions directly to somebody at the district to get the answers they need.
Consider the Technical Aptitude of Your Teachers!
Professional development also needs to be staggered in depth of ease of use as teachers have different experience level with technology. Professional development on a specific type of technology could lead to quickly learning on how to use the product for some and may lead to frustration for others.
Professional development needs to cater to all teachers for them to find the right technology for them to use to teach their students.
Develop a System!
Districts are also realizing quickly that they need to develop a system of what a digital classroom should look like. They need to share their vision through online sessions and professional development. They need to use these sessions to explore the different types of technology available to the teachers. Most importantly they need to have a way for teachers to ask questions throughout the process. These questions can then drive topics for future sessions.
Less can be more!
It is important that districts do not attempt more than what is needed at this time so as not to overwhelm teachers in this process. Focus on a few tools and learn how they can be used to their fullest extent.
Don’t let the tail wag the dog!
It is important to always focus on the instruction and what needs to be learned and then find the tool to teach, rather than finding the tool because of all its bells and whistles and then building your instruction around it.
Patience during the process is also important. There might be some issues along the way, but teachers and students need to work through those issues and learn from them.
Remember Why We Are Here.
The focus of all the professional development needs to be on learning and helping students learn.
The Future is Bright.
Teaching is going to be more powerful after schools open back up as all that is learned during this distance learning can be incorporated into the brick and mortar classroom.