Now, more than ever, we need to re-think education.
These past few months have taught us so much. One thing we’ve realized is that we don’t have to keep doing the same things we’ve always done — the realities with which we’ve been presented are malleable. And if yesterday’s order of things can change so dramatically, then it’s well within our power as people and as a community to decide what tomorrow should look like.
In that spirit, Tomorrow, powered by Remake Learning, is a campaign that calls us to forge a future where each day holds promise for every learner — where youth, families, and educators connect timeless ideas and new ways of learning to prepare for what comes next, no matter what tomorrow might bring.
We need to seriously think about the function and purpose of our schools and how we can be sure that our schools are supporting our students, teachers, support staff, and community. More than ever, professional development needs to be re-vamped in order to meet our needs–needs that are changing by the minute.
One day schools are going to start with in-person instruction. Then next day, it’s not in-person–it’s all virtual. Then two days later, school will be a combination of in-person and virtual instruction. Teachers have always needed to be flexible and change directions on a dime; however, this is unprecedented and uncharted territory.
So what do we do other than scour the web for ‘online instruction’ and beg, borrow, and steal for a few extra PTA bucks to pay for what we hope will be the best platforms, resources, and PD?
Here are four ways that professional development needs to go for the future in order to be even more valuable for educators:
Professional Development must:
- be timely and relevant;
- focus on ways of encouraging student discourse virtually;
- include ways of keeping students engaged in virtual instruction;
- bridge the gap between home and school.
Here’s the skinny. . .
How Professional Development for Educators has Changed and Where It Needs to Go
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted life around the world and created unprecedented challenges.
The full scope of the pandemic is still unfolding, and we will feel its impact for years to come. We need our teachers to be ready and equipped to meet the needs of their students–students who need steadfast and sturdy teachers now more than ever.
In order to do best for both our students and teachers, Professional Development must:
1.) Professional Development must be timely and relevant.
Teachers need to experience learning that they can use the very same day to reach their students.
Gone are the days of PD being focused on “what-if’s” and “maybes”. Teachers do not need time-waster PD where they receive dozens of handouts that will simply sit in manilla folders at the back of their file cabinets.
The landscape of education is changing right before our eyes. Classroom teachers, support staff, and specialists don’t even have time to read a book about pedagogy or best practices. They need actionable tips, tricks, and ideas that they can use in their instruction today.
2.) Professional Development must focus on ways of encouraging student discourse virtually.
Many of our schools are beginning virtually this year, so teachers need to learn ways to facilitate student discussion and interaction virtually. With a ton of new platforms popping up on the daily, teachers need to know what will meet their students’ needs safely and efficiently. They dont’ even have time to research on their own.
It’s up to admin teams and staff development specialists to do the research, manage subscriptions and payment information, and then teach staff how best to use it. Students need to interact with one another. They learn best from each other and from talking through challenges and problem-solving together. But how do they do this in a safe, age-appropriate manner? Professional Development must focus on this.
3.) Professional Development must include ways of keeping students engaged in virtual instruction.
Virtual instruction is new, and though students today spend more consecutive hours a day in front of a screen, they are not used to doing so for educational purposes. Keeping students interested and engaged in virtual instruction must be a priority of today’s Professional Development.
It’s important for colleagues to collaborate regularly and share successes and challenges. Time must be allocated for teachers to do just this–almost like a staff meeting with no agenda or with time set aside for collaboration.
4.) Professional Development must help bridge the gap between home and school.
How will Back-to-School Night be formatted? What will Open House look like? Will there be a Scholastic Book Fair? What will Parent Conferences look like? All of these in-person events helped create a connection between home and school. What will that look like this year?
It’s so important for families to feel comfortable conversing with teachers, and in order for students to meet with success, that strong home-school connection is key.
Professional Development must involve some community stakeholders this year so that teachers can learn the best ways to reach families during this ever-changing time.
What do you think Professional Development will look like this year? What has worked in your community? I’d love to know.
The Tomorrow campaign will engage youth, families, and educators between May and October 2020, provoking a critical conversation about what comes next and the future of educational learning.
The Tomorrow campaign is focused on asking what we can do today to make tomorrow a more promising place for every learner. We aim to find this out together.
Check out this article called Teaching Tomorrow’s Teachers for more information and ideas about what tomorrow’s professional development can and should look like!
From May-October 2020, Tomorrow, powered by Remake Learning will host a series of virtual meet-ups and workshops, youth documentaries and podcasts, social media chats and exchanges of life lessons. Grants will help equip educators to forge the future of learning.
For virtual event schedules and more information, visit: https://bit.ly/2WJX91v
Fyi: this post was written as part of a partnership with Tomorrow, powered by Remake Learning, but as always, my opinions are my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.
photo credit: Ben Filio for Remake Learning Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0