This past year, teachers were introduced to a lot of new technology to help facilitate distance learning. And, because of this, professional development (PD) time often morphed into technical training–how to use Zoom, how to best utilize a new learning app or software program, how to troubleshoot student device issues.
With so much on teachers’ plates, this so-called PD became draining. Teachers simply couldn’t spend any more valued time learning yet another new program. And they weren’t getting the important support they needed to make tactical pedagogical shifts for their evolving learning spaces.
Heading into a new school year, we have a chance to hit the reset button to restore true PD time into teachers’ schedules.
Yes, technical training is important. But, technical training shouldn’t be used as a synonym for professional learning. It does not provide the same benefits to teaching and learning as does research-based PD.
For school and district leaders, it is important not to conflate the concepts of technical training and PD. Carve out time this year for the types of professional learning that will lead to better student outcomes.
Align professional development to teachers’ needs… by asking them
PD is all about making teachers feel supported and giving them the tools needed to continuously improve their instructional practice. And, this coming school year, teachers will undoubtedly need extra support. How can they connect with students entering back into the classroom? What instructional strategies can they use to accelerate learning? How can they build strong and collaborative relationships with their colleagues after months of working online?