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Articles: Professional Development

Thousands of science teachers around the country are incorporating standards that include the study of climate change. But other educators have found that one of the first questions to answer is exactly how to deliver the lessons.

Schools and districts in nearly 30 states—including Lyon County School District (Nevada)—use the Edthena platform to video coach educators. Lyon County began video coaching its 200 elementary school teachers in the 2017-18 school year. The PD was made possible by a grant from the Nevada Department of Education.

Leanne E. Oliver is a mathematics teacher and curriculum chair at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School in Oshawa, Ontario.

High-quality, collaborative, professional development for teachers is a difference-maker for students. I have witnessed firsthand its power as a teacher and mathematics curriculum chair at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School in Oshawa, Ontario.

While innovations typically involve a high degree of novelty and a paradigm shift, tried-and-true best practices often serve as their launch pad and rocket fuel.

In designing and selecting professional development opportunities that harness and reflect best practices in education, there are four key elements for a high-quality experience: authenticity, contextual learning, a creative climate, and reflection and transference.

Two years ago, Elizabeth Rincon was seeking to end the last-minute scramble to cull professional development for approximately 125 special education paraprofessionals on days when teachers had preplanned PD.

“Principals had to either swiftly get something together for paraprofessionals in terms of PD or they would email me and I would have to quickly plan a PD module,” says Rincon, director of special education for Timberlane Regional School District in southern New Hampshire.

How closely is professional development linked to student achievement?

Professionalism expects learning to be in the collective. We should think of our own learning and growth as part of a mutually beneficial ongoing professional development process. A big part of that idea is that we share and become more transparent in our practice as educators. 

When Mark MacLean became superintendent of the Merrimack Valley and Andover School Districts in New Hampshire four years ago, he wanted to find an online solution for teacher evaluation that could also link to professional development.

After some research with his leadership team, MacLean found TeachPoint, which offers a Professional Development Tracking Solution that also enables districts to link ongoing professional development with its Educator Evaluation Solution. MacLean decided to use the Evaluation Solution on its own for one year before adding the PD Tracking Solution.

When it comes to professional development, Regina Teat believes building the instructional capacity of every instructor and classroom teacher is the most effective use of time and money of any program, especially using grant funding.

“When the money goes away, the capacity and knowledge through good professional development for the teacher remains,” says Teat, Director of Elementary Education and Title I & II for Dorchester County Public Schools, a rural district located on Maryland’s eastern shore.

Timothy Collier has been teaching high school mathematics for more than 30 years, most of them at McAlester High School in southeast Oklahoma, where he is the department chair. State budget cuts have affected McAlester High School and the district’s eight other schools, especially in the area of professional development for teachers, who were facing shifting state standards in math and science.

School districts know that “sit-and-get” professional development isn’t working and can have extreme consequences, such as high teacher turnover and poor student performance. To combat this, across the country there is an ongoing, rapid evolution of professional development to be more personalized. While change in education is often slow, this long-overdue advancement is quickly taking shape. 

Trish Rubin, former educator and now marketing consultant, wrote BrandED: Tell Your Story, Build Relationships and Empower Learning. Follow her at @trishrubin.

Branding is an empowering trend for educators who move out of their typical professional silos into understanding marketing tools.

HANDS-ON LEARNING—The Mandell Academy at the Connecticut Science Center provides opportunities for local teachers to experiment with science in a student-free environment.

Many science centers and museums offer STEM-related PD, and want to partner with districts to develop programs that align with school curriculum and Next Generation Science Standards.

Only a handful of superintendents have launched a brand-new district. Even fewer have done it only months after being involved in a large-scale merger. Meet David Stephens, superintendent of Bartlett City Schools.

A lack of PD for teachers and principals hinders schools from achieving the full benefits of personalized learning, according to an analysis by MAPLE.

With districts facing a shortage of bilingual teachers, paraprofessionals present a rich source of candidates.

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