Creating More Effective Professional Development

iStock-523898545.jpg

Much of the conversation around education and schools revolves around how students learn, what they’re being taught, and how much time they spend in the classroom. However, just as important is the topic of what additional training and lessons teachers receive. Besides being mandated in many states and schools, professional development can be an essential piece in creating highly-effective teachers and classrooms. Unfortunately, a recent survey conducted by researcher Linda Darling-Hammond reported that although 90% of the teachers they surveyed had received some form of professional development, a majority of them found it totally useless. An additional survey done by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that principals share these same concerns and don’t feel the professional development they provide adequately prepares teachers for the changing nature of their jobs, including the increasing focus on technology and digital learning tools.

Clearly, the current method and information contained in professional development is not working for today’s teachers. In order to deliver more effective training, experts have come up with the following tips:

1. Professional development must be ongoing with a significant amount of time dedicated to follow-up training.

The current method for delivering professional development is often in a lecture-type setting. Teachers sometimes call these training sessions “spray and pray” where a large amount of information is thrown at them, then they are told to go implement it without any additional support. In order for any information to be truly useful, any professional development needs to be immediately followed up with support for implementation. This could include time with the teacher in the classroom, collaboration with colleagues, or at the very least, an additional session where teachers can share what they’ve tried so far, and any challenges they’ve encountered.

2. Training sessions need to be appropriate in size and scope.

Many professional development sessions include upwards of 100 teachers, which means they are typically not personalized and do not allow the structure to allow teachers to ask questions or understand how to apply the ideas to their individual classroom. The content presented during these sessions is rarely useful when it is generic. Instead, it needs to be specific for the teachers who are attending (for example, grounded in their discipline or grade-level). Purely lecture-type instruction is also not as effective as allowing for discussion with their colleagues and including activities that show teachers how they could use the learnings in their classroom.

3. Goals and priorities for teachers need to be clearly communicated and focused.

Teachers often report that they receive too many goals that all compete for their time and attention. As a result, they are unsure what to prioritize and don’t truly focus on any of them. Professional development can add to the problem if they already have too many other issues on their plate. To create more effective classrooms, administrators need to communicate which goals teachers should focus on for the year, and their professional development should relate to and support these goals.

Professional development represents a lost opportunity for most teachers. Instead of thinking as these sessions as just another requirement that needs to be met, it can become part of a much larger objective. By providing personalized training for small groups that focuses on prioritized goals and includes follow-up training for implementation, professional development can become an invaluable part of teachers’ careers.

To learn more about how Wowzers K-8 Online Math program can provide effective professional development, contact our team or try a free trial 

Want to learn more? 

sales@wowzers.com

P: 872-205-6250

F: 888-502-2106

How Blended Learning Programs Build Self-Esteem

iStock-182156597.jpg

On average, teachers spend over a thousand hours with their students each year. It’s no surprise, then, that students’ relationship with their teacher can be an extraordinarily valuable one. When many children are asked who they look up to, identify with, and gather strength from, their answer is often a teacher, either past or present. Although many teachers would answer the question, “What is your job?” with, “To teach, of course,” we know the responsibilities of a teacher go far beyond simply providing lessons and grading work. Teachers play a valuable role in the self-worth and self-esteem of their students.

The most successful teachers have several qualities in common: they are optimistic, charismatic, and determined. These teachers generally have several facts in mind when working with their students:

Fact 1: Students Want to Be Successful

Teachers who believe that every student wants to experience success in learning approach each new objective with a positive outlook. If students struggle or fail to succeed, they work to discover why. Many of these teachers use a blended learning approach because it helps eliminate the fear of failure. When using an online program in conjunction with traditional methods, students are able to work independently at their own pace, often on content that is at a different difficulty level than many of the other students. By linking this adaptive approach with a strong role model as a teacher, students experience more success and work on building their self-esteem and positivity towards learning.

Fact 2: Students Desire Immediate Feedback

Students want to know how they’re doing. When they’re feeling unsure or confused, it often leads to self-defeating behaviors such as inattention, giving up, or goofing off. Truly effective teachers recognize these behaviors not as disruptions, but as a request for help. By combining their skills with a technology program that gives this immediate feedback, teachers are able to provide their students with more direction and attention. This engaging approach helps students build their self-esteem and experience more opportunities for success.

Fact 3: Students Learn Best in Different Ways

Studies have shown there’s no “one way” to learn. Students’ brains are highly unique, meaning that individuals learn best in different ways. The most memorable teachers not only recognize this fact, they also recognize that they teach best in different ways. By interweaving their personal teaching style with technology, teachers are able to present material in many different ways, reaching more students than they could in a purely traditional classroom. These multiple approaches lead to a greater possibility that a student will have an “ah-ha” moment and truly grasp the content. When this happens, it’s a very powerful motivator that leads to a greater self-esteem.

Fact 4: The Sharing of Ideas Leads to Confidence

When a student really “gets it,” sharing their ideas and knowledge with peers leads to even greater confidence. This is the reason that blended learning classrooms include both technology and in-person work. Many online programs also include offline, differentiated activities after each learning concept that allow students to work together, share their ideas, and mentor other classmates. Teachers who recognize these accomplishments and milestones raise the self-esteem of their students well beyond what is possible when students work independently.

By reminding themselves of these facts, teachers can create a positive relationship with their students that is based on success. A blended learning classroom becomes a motivating, safe environment for students, especially those of whom are building up their self-esteem and look up to their teacher for strength and support.

Contributing Author: Jessica Kuras 

To learn more about how Wowzers can help teachers create a blended learning environment, contact our team or try a free trial

Want to learn more? 

sales@wowzers.com

P: 872-205-6250

F: 888-502-2106