In the past 18 months, education has changed drastically.
Over the span of a few weeks, teachers all across the United States adapted and evolved to ever-changing learning environments.
In our small rural school district in western Pennsylvania, for example, school closures in the spring of 2020 gave way to a 2020-2021 (and eventually a 2021-2022) school year that brought with it instructional models that most of us had never encountered on such a large scale if at all. We had to adapt to new learning environments, virtual and digital, and apply new technological applications and modalities.
Not surprisingly, the state of education is still changing, and therefore, so is teacher professional development. Fortunately, for the Pittsburgh region, Tomorrow, powered by Remake Learning, is at the forefront of these changes!
In celebration of World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5, an international celebration of teachers created by UNESCO in 1994, I’d like to highlight several keys to successful PD inspired by Tomorrow. Also, be sure to check out their latest article that discusses the ways Tomorrow is reshaping professional development for educators today and tomorrow.
Professional Development That Is Targeted and Individualized
Successful professional development within a school district generally has two characteristics: its targeted and ongoing. At the beginning of the pandemic, my school district provided individualized professional development for the technical aspects of the new virtual learning environment. But, because teachers have different levels of comfortability with instructional technology, teachers were offered one-on-one meetings with technology coaches and choose-your-own-pathway professional development with a series of video trainings that could be rewatched at any time.
According to Tomorrow, Cornell School District, supported by a Moonshot grant, did something very similar by asking teachers what they needed and then targeting the professional development to those needs. Similar to a learner-centered classroom environment, this model designs professional development that is targeted to what the teachers need.
What’s great about these models is that once they’re built, they can be ongoing, the other piece to the professional development success puzzle. Ultimately, once the target areas are identified and pathways are built out, teachers can continue to utilize the learning content at their own pace when they need it.
Professional Development for Content That Matters
Teachers don’t just need support with the technical aspects of teaching. They also need support with content. Creating classrooms that support equitable practices and content requires professional development that focuses on the needs of all learners.
Last summer’s State of Black Learning conference, a two-day conference held in Pittsburgh, brings together educators, thought leaders, and stakeholders for professional development that promotes equity and justice in the classroom. This conference provides ways for educators to grapple with curriculum choices and authentically infuse Black and African American culture and history into the mainstream curriculum.
Professional Development for Instructional Strategies That Work
Project-based learning is an instructional strategy that engages students in active, authentic learning during a problem-solving or inquiry-based extended learning task, and it is making waves in classrooms for its high engagement outcomes. This strategy is not to be confused with project-based assessments, which assess students on mastery or growth after content has been delivered. Rather, it means that students are engaging in a project for their learning opportunity.
This strategy can have a great impact when facilitated by a knowledgeable educator. Quality professional development can yield great outcomes. Take the Consortium for Public Education and Intermediate Unit 1 as an example. Funded by a Tomorrow campaign grant, 20 educators from southwestern Pennsylvania are working on this project to implement project-based learning into their classrooms this fall.
Valuable professional development opportunities can make all of the difference for educators who are faced with challenging classroom learning environments, now more than ever.
For nearly 15 years, Remake Learning has been partnering with educators nationwide, igniting engaging, relevant, and equitable learning practices in support of young people navigating rapid social and technological change. The recent revelations and growing conversations regarding education and learning has been part of Remake Learning’s core values and mission since its inception in 2005. Powered by Remake Learning, the Tomorrow campaign continues the mission.
Click here for more information about ways that Pittsburgh is reshaping the future of teacher professional development.
Each Tuesday, the Tomorrow team launches a new podcast, exploring the future of learning, with some of the country’s leading educators. Check out more here: https://bit.ly/podcastTMR
This blog post was sponsored by Tomorrow, powered by Remake Learning. As always, all opinions are my own.