Every learner is different. Nowhere is this as true as it is for teachers. Every teacher comes to the classroom with a different background, different set of skills and differences in how they learn best. Add to this complexity, the fact that every teacher has a different set of students each year, all with their distinct needs.
Teachers need individualized learning opportunities to an extreme degree.
They know this. Many pursue a variety of methods to individualize their own learning: They tweet out questions, share videos of their practice, join community conversations via sites like edWeb or tools such as Voxer. By contrast, the majority of districts who support teacher professional development are stuck in the past, using traditional models to providing teachers with one-size-fits-all PD.
Time for change. Teachers are demanding more choices. A few brave school and district leaders are trying to deliver, breaking the “pre-fab” style of PD for a more personal approach:
- By pulling data from across the district to better recommend courses and resources for PD;
- By offering teachers menus of choices for PD that is both in person and virtual;
- By shifting from a PD that only counts time, to one that counts proficiency.
Over the past year, EdSurge has explored the work going on in districts, the tools they’re using and what it’s going to get personalized PD started. Here are the stories we’ve heard--and the tools that we’ve found..
If you’re a teacher, we’d like to hear what tools you want in your toolbox. If you’re a district leader, we’d love to hear what you’re doing to personalize your teachers’ learning. Drop a note or tweet about it: We’re all engaged in learning here!
PD Management and Delivery Cycle: 25 Tools
To evaluate PD Systems, we created a framework to capture the ways that professional learning is supported at the district level. It has five categories: Recruit and Retain, Manage, Teach, Instructional Support and Evaluate. These categories form a cycle that districts are constantly operating and maintaining. Teachers can be at many different stages within this cycle and sometimes are within multiple stages at one time. Some districts might choose one product to support the entire cycle, while others may choose a combination of products to support various professional learning needs. As districts look to technology to improve efficiency and increase capacity, our hope is that they will be able to find the right tools for the right purpose, whether it is a technology tool or not.
Each product falls into one or more parts of this cycle. The tables below are designed to help school leaders find the right products to provide the best support for teachers, while also illustrating how different products could be combined to cover a complete cycle of learning management and delivery.
Recruit and Retain
These systems support recruiting, hiring, tracking and managing qualifications or compensation, and most importantly, figuring out ways to build capacity amongst the staff districts already have. Often times, these systems are paired with Evaluation tools to help track and evaluate performance.
These systems are the heartbeat of the professional learning world. They help manage content and learning plans. These systems enable districts to manage and track enrollment, create courses, and track credits and activities. For teachers, these systems empower them to assess needs, set goals, create learning plans and find the right resources to meet their needs. Often times, they are paired with Delivery tools or Evaluation tools that can help guide which content a teacher should use next.
These are systems that fall into our original PD Learning Cycle: Engage, Teach, Instructional Support, and Measure. They support learning directly and go beyond curated content libraries. These systems deliver courses, provide teachers with social engagement tools, and coaching or mentoring tools.
Instructional Support systems combine professional learning with tools that support teachers, immediate needs in the classroom, specifically around lesson planning and assessment data. These systems scaffold their work so that learning moments can be included. They are generally associated with Delivery tools.
While often associated with Manage or Recruit & Retain tools, Evaluate tools are used to support the process of evaluating or measuring a teacher’s practice. They support the observation process and multi-measurement evaluations.