Solution: Create a Vision for Personalized, Tech-Based PD

In the education arena, educators are bombarded with hundreds of options with little time to explore and integrate them into the classroom. In addition, new initiatives continually emerge that require participation and training during department and faculty meetings that may not directly relate to personal teaching goals.

For professional development to be effective, school administrators need to establish a vision, personalize PD for educators based on their input, support training, and provide time in the school day schedule to achieve goals. With all of the demands placed on schools systems and education leaders throughout the country, this is not an easy task.

In my view, to fully integrate Professional Development into the educational system we need to:

  • Create a separate tech-based PD plan to identify teaching and learning expectations as a supplement to the District Technology Plan. For example, an expectation could be the use of Project-Based Learning in every curriculum, or the use of weekly assessment strategies. As schools leaders, decide on the vision for PD in your school.
  • Personalize PD for teachers. Allow educators to decide on the types of tech tools and resources to use, methods to deliver instruction, and how to share best practices within their departments based on the PD plan.
  • Incorporate PD in educator’s goals with benchmarks to provide accountability for the vision. This would ensure that the PD identified is carried out in the curriculum.
  • Update the school calendar to include PD on a weekly basis as a required block of time. This is a necessary task to provide time for training and development.
  • Make valid use of library media specialists, digital media specialists and technology integration specialists during the PD blocks of time to offer departments assistance with future ready skills. Teachers need ongoing assistance with various types of technology tools and resources. Having these professionals in a small group setting or on a one to one basis would be beneficial in helping them attain their goals.
  • Encourage teachers to participate in at least one off-site workshop per year to explore additional best practices and network with professionals in their field.

About the Author:

Dianne Pappafotopoulos is the District Instructional Technology Specialist at Dover Sherborn Public Schools, where she assists faculty/staff with technology integration. Dianne is also a member of the high school Technology & Engineering Department where she teaches an Introduction to Programming course and a Technology & Society course.