Effective PD should provide teachers with opportunities to engage in meaningful collaboration. Collaboration is at the core of the PD services offered by AVID. Participants have opportunities to work with one another, ask questions, share ideas, and challenge thinking in every activity. Relationships are carefully developed throughout the training to produce a safe, trusting environment in which teachers experience rigorous hands-on activities that they can take back to the classroom.

This sort of interaction also lays the foundation for conversations that challenge existing views and pedagogy, allowing teachers to consider the more innovative and inclusive teaching practices afforded by digital tools.

Match outcomes and strategy

Effective PD should provide teachers with instructional strategies that go beyond explicitly teaching a new technology. The focus should be on learning goals first and digital tools second. Tech-savvy educators approach instruction by defining the content students need to learn and creating the context to ignite their curiosity. Only then do they determine how learning will occur and which digital tools might support and enhance that learning process.

3 ways to provide effective #PD

During a PD session, for example, educators could take part in what AVID calls a digital jigsaw, researching best practices for digital organization and sharing their findings on Padlet or another real-time collaboration tool. Padlet lets group members take notes collaboratively and have focused discussions within the tool. This emphasis on note-taking in a digital environment helps educators support students in their construction of meaning using tools that match individual learning styles: digital ink, links to relevant resources to reinforce cognitive connections, meta-tags, graphic organizers, video, and sound.

Individually, these are disparate tools, but together they form a toolbox that can be accessed with a larger goal in mind. These strategies would be much more difficult to accomplish without the use of Padlet or a similar technology, but learning how to use the technology should not be the only goal. PD should allow learners to gather and discuss notes in a way that encourages them to process information in a more meaningful, deeper, and efficient manner.

By investing in smart PD, schools and districts can dramatically increase their educators’ confidence with educational technology—while better ensuring that their investments in such tools will boost student outcomes.

About the Author:

Thuan Nguyen, a former school district assistant superintendent and chief information officer, is executive vice president for AVID, where he oversees technical operations, products, and services and is responsible for AVID’s digital strategy.