Ask most teachers what they think of their district’s professional development (PD) and you’ll most likely get a grimace or an outright groan. But PD tools don’t have to be unproductive. With the right products, such as one of the ones below, your teachers will be grinning instead of groaning.

Teacher-recommended PD tools

“Video coaching with Edthena provides us with a sustainable and scalable professional development model. Teachers videotape themselves and then share it with their colleagues asking for specific feedback. Being able to leave timestamped comments has allowed us as coaches to create conversations at the specific point in time that we want the teacher to reflect on. This year, we will use video as an informal look at the level of math conversations going on in their classrooms.”
—Barb Corna, lead academic specialist for the Accelerate Math program. Northwood Elementary School, Napa, Calif.

“Originally we partnered with Education Elements to provide on-site personalized learning PD and consulting. We saw significant changes in our classrooms, but soon realized that we needed to improve our leadership practices and increase our capacity to make this and any future instructional initiatives sustainable. During their sessions and ongoing support, we witnessed the specific tactics the Education Elements team uses to work together efficiently, so we asked for their guidance on how we could adopt these ways ourselves. Education Elements’ leadership PD and consultative approach helped us change the way we run meetings—they’re efficient, more effective, and inclusive of all attendees. It also helped us change the way we organize schedules so that leaders and educators alike have more opportunities to collaborate. Education Elements has been a vital partner as we work toward our mission of flattening the district so we’re not a district of schools, but a cohesive school district.”
—Richard DelMoro, superintendent, Enlarged City School District of Middletown (NY)

“Oh my gosh! I love the edWeb platform for PD and a built-in collaborative community. This is the best idea I’ve seen in a while. I can watch relevant material at my leisure, take a quiz, and submit for staff-development credits, but I can also see archived resources and connect with other educators like me. I love this resource!”
—Kristen Koeller, RTI instructional coach, Livermore, Calif.

“With Frontline Education, we finally have amazing resources that we can bring to bear on the mentoring and support we’re trying to give our teachers. When you’ve experienced the micro-credentials, the collegial films, and collaborative groups that you can access through Frontline, you now know what good, consistent, yearlong PD looks like. And you actually impose that structure as much as possible on the traditional PD you’re bringing in. That has been one of the unexpected, delightful, and productive results it has had on other types of development and training that we do at the school.”
—Cindy Phillips, executive director, Weilenmann School of Discovery, Park City, Utah

“What I love about Hoonuit is that you’re working at your own pace. You don’t have to rush through it, you can revisit things, you can actually learn the material. Hoonuit also has a variety of different courses that can be used to address every situation possible. The feedback I’ve been getting from a lot of the teachers is, ‘I love this!’ It’s giving teachers a break. They don’t have to think in terms of ‘I can’t go on my vacation this summer because I have to attend face-to-face PD workshops.’ Instead, they can manage their own calendars.”
—Lisa Keith, blended learning specialist, Guilford County (NC) School District

LETRS, Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, from Voyager Sopris Learning, is truly life changing for an educator. It gives the teachers the ‘why’ but also the ‘how’—why students are struggling, why reading is complex, but also this is how you plan for instruction. LETRS truly allows you to be an informed educator when you’re determining what to do with students. It is the tool to change lives and change communities.”
—Dr. Ebony Lee, director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, Clayton County (GA) Public Schools

“The project-based learning training I received from PBLWorks has empowered me in more ways than I ever imagined! PBLWorks helped me develop some incredibly impactful projects this year for my ELL students. These projects have kept them engaged and excited about content and connected them to their community. I teach a class for ELL students, some of whom came to the school knowing very little English. PBLWorks helped me provide personalized learning and I now feel equipped to meet the diverse needs of every learner—no matter where they are starting from. PBLWorks has also provided resources to support even the most creative educational initiatives in my classroom. Often I have had some extravagant project ideas and PBLWorks encouraged these and helped me find the resources to make them happen. I have reached out to my PBL PD instructors for guidance on many occasions. They have provided EL resources and professional conversation, and helped me problem solve.”
—Elizabeth Leone, EL teacher, Webster Elementary School, Manchester, New Hampshire

“In addition to teaching students academic content, there are other skills and training teachers need in order to support students. For example, if a student is struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts and a teacher is able to recognize the signs, they can get the student the professional help they need before something tragic happens. Using PublicSchoolWORKS’ EmployeeSafe Suite, educators are assigned online suicide prevention courses detailing the symptoms and signs of depression, as well as how to best intervene so the student seeks professional help. The system’s automation features make it easy to ensure all employees take the courses, too. We know when an employee completes a course because the system automatically updates their training transcript.”
—Eric Haley, superintendent, Waterville (ME) Public Schools

About the Author:

Ellen Ullman is editorial director for eSchool Media.


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