Ineffective PD wastes teacher time, district’ resources, and most importantly, affects student results. In “Teachers’ Skills in the Digital Age and Personalized PD for Teachers,” hosted by edWeb.net and sponsored by 2gnō.me, Lynn Gershman, educator at 2gnō.me, explored issues in PD and the importance of personalizing PD for teachers.

4 Big Challenges to Most PD

According to Gershman, there are four challenges effecting teacher success: 1) Rather than talking about teacher development, we put the cart before the horse by talking about all the things that come after that development, such as evaluations and test scores; 2) We also have an idealized version of what a teacher is because of things like TV and movies; and 3) There is a misconception that teachers only have an impact on students during that one year in the classroom. For great teachers, this is simply not true.

But perhaps the biggest challenges comes from a gap in how teachers teach students versus how teachers experience their PD. As a classroom teacher for 15 years, Gershman experienced a variety of PD. While some of it was great, she noted, there was 4) no differentiation in the PD.

“Why do we do professional development the way we do it?” she asked. “If we recognize the different identities of our students, we shouldn’t do the same for our teachers and provide each individual with the PD they need, rather than ask them to fit inside a box?”

Ensure PD Success with a Focus on Teachers

Schools can ensure successful PD by incorporating certain teacher-focused elements into the programs:

  • Teachers must give their input on PD so they are taught the skills they need to improve.
  • Measuring teacher readiness in skills that are already present allows districts to be able to differentiate PD later on.
  • It is also important to offer choice in delivery method, since not everyone learns the same way.
  • Recognizing leaders from within the school and building a cohort of faculty that can run the program creates more engaging PD, since teachers will be learning from their peers.
  • Experiential learning, or learning by doing, instead of just being taught, is often the best way for someone to learn.
  • This must be followed by ongoing support, which provides time to practice, take risks, and master skills.

“If we have all of these elements in sync, we can have an amazing, impactful and long-lasting professional development program,” said Gershman.

About the Presenter

Lynn Gershman has spent 15 years in the secondary classroom honing her practice and working to influence change on a larger scale. Her objective is to reform education in the U.S. through the use of technology. She believes that technology alone will not change the face of education, but when teachers are willing to examine and augment their practice with technology, it will revolutionize the way teachers teach and the way students learn.

Join the Community

New Models for Professional Learning is a free professional learning community (PLC) that will help you implement successful personalized professional learning programs and help educators take charge of their own professional development.

The recording of the webinar can be viewed by anyone at: http://home.edweb.net/webinar/teachers-skills-personalized-pd-teachers/

[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by edWeb.net. View more edWeb.net events here.]

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.