Skip to main content

Do your teachers complain about your training programs? It might be because they’re too short. Seriously.

By now, you’ve seen the research. In one study, just 30 percent of teachers reported improvements after two years of professional learning.

And that was before the pandemic. 

School districts used to have no more than a handful of days a year to conduct professional learning. Classrooms would shut down and teachers and staff would pack into auditoriums and district learning centers for a full-day of generalized learning. Course topics were surface level because they had to be. Time was an enemy.

In a report published by Frontline Education, just 13% of professional development programs included three or more meetings. The average length of a single PD? Just 4.5 hours. 

With the emergence of virtual and hybrid learning, school districts can provide more professional learning options for teachers and staff. The rise of virtual and blended programs gives educators time and flexibility to dive deeper into specific subjects, weave professional learning opportunities into the fabric of the school year, and embed concepts and practical exercises into the ebb and flow of their workday.

Educator Andrew Canle put his finger on exactly why this so important:

 “Administrators must confront the inert hypocrisy that a one-size-fits-all PD model reveals: Teachers aren’t given the same voice, choice, differentiation, and engagement opportunities afforded to students in droves.”

Source: Edutopia, 2020

Example: Say you survey a team of sixth-grade teachers. Among them, maybe a third tell you they need help with trauma-informed practices. The other two-thirds say digital instructional delivery is their top need. Rather than offer one course for everyone, what if you could offer two separate asynchronous courses delivered virtually? Then let educators choose their own content based on need and provide a series of touchpoints during the year to test concepts (in the classroom).

Build learning for long-haul success

Imagine you want to give teachers more awareness around an important topic — say, social-emotional learning. In addition to offering an asynchronous course and an in-person workshop where teachers and staff can role-play specific student engagements, consider asking the instructor to provide a post-event evaluation and/or quarterly progress review or assignments to practice during the school day. In the case of SEL, this might include knowledge and understanding of critical concepts like Goal-Directed Behavior or Optimistic Thinking.

Questions for your PD provider: 

  • What follow-up activities for teachers and staff are included?
  • Does the instructor offer extended virtual Masterclasses or 1:1 coaching? 
  • Can your school or district license the course for multiple years?
  • If yes, will updates and new modules be made available as new content is released? 

Each of these questions will help you evaluate the long-term viability and usefulness of your next professional learning program.

Want your staff to walk out of your next PD session ready to work and craving more? Don’t miss our Ultimate Guide to K-12 PD featuring 7 ways professional learning is broken and how to fix it.

Leave a Reply