In looking online, there are numerous discussions and articles focused on “personalized learning” not only for students, but for educators. With various forms of successful and unsuccessful professional development models used throughout districts, schools still seem to struggle with two important factors; time in their schedules and faculty engagement. Where do we find the time to fit PD into the school calendar and once we do, how do we keep the interest of teachers alive with our offerings?
Back in November, 2016, I wrote an article published in eSchool News about PD and have been thinking about some additional solutions to the ongoing issue. If you ask a teacher what he/she is looking for in professional development, the answer is always related to some type of content that is truly relevant to their discipline. So, in order for PD to be successful, there needs to be some type of training that meets a teacher’s individual needs, accompanied by accountability and reflection. Easier said than done. With all the initiatives, time on task, and teaching responsibilities, teachers cannot do this alone. They need a structured plan to set up a more personalized environment to accomplish their goals. The concept of “personalized PD” can only be established with administrative support to help create an effective individualized professional development program.
To make this simple, I created the following chart to highlight my thoughts on the process:
- Include PD that is personal to each teacher in their teaching goals at the start of each school year.
At the start of the school year, a teacher would meet with his/her supervisor to establish curriculum goals. In addition, a professional development goal would be added to the process.
- Establish a flexible schedule that consists of face-to-face, individual and online learning to fit each teacher’s personal goals and needs.
A teacher would then meet with his/her supervisor to identify where and when training opportunities would be offered. This training may be in-house, online or at a conference. A schedule would be set up for the teacher to attend these PD events.
- Have teachers contact the tech specialist in their school to schedule at least one bi-weekly visit to their classes to demonstrate a tech concept that can be used in their curriculum for tech integration purposes.
Since most training involves some type of technology resources, having a tech specialist work with teachers bi-weekly on specific areas of interest would be helpful to assist them in planning their curriculum lessons.
- Give teachers the opportunity to demonstrate that they are using their PD training in their daily lessons to satisfy their goals during observations.
As part of the required teacher observations, supervisors should include signs of professional development in their written statements for accountability.
Making professional development a "personal" feature for educator's is not only important for professional growth but meaningful to the whole concept of teaching and learning.