In May, when edWeb.net surveyed principals, personalized PD for teachers was the number one topic of interest. With all the responsibilities and tasks on principals’ plates, relevant, engaging PD focused on best practices can be extremely challenging.
In a recent edWebinar, Dr. L Robert Furman, principal of South Park Elementary Center in Pennsylvania, asked the question, “Why is it that when we think of PD, it becomes a comedy or a depression and teachers automatically assume that it is going to be a colossal waste of time?”
Personalized PD for teachers can alleviate these feelings because it gives teachers opportunities to be better teachers, translating into improved student learning.
Furman and the school administrators have completely revamped teacher PD by using curated webinars and accessible and relevant resources on edWeb.
Teachers are expected to do their best every day, and this expectation can weigh heavy on them unless principals support them with productive instructional practices. Education leaders at South Park Elementary Center decided creative, innovative, and personalized PD for teachers was the best way to support them in doing their best in classrooms every day.
Using edWeb resources, teachers quickly find their topic of interest and easily access webinars that enable them to “jump in and get a lot of great information in a hurry.” Access to edWeb resources also gives principals opportunities to meet with teachers and reflect on questions such as: “Did it challenge your thinking? What caught your attention? Did it change your way of thinking about the topic specifically? What evidence could you show that helped you change ideas or concepts from the webinar or artifacts that mesh or contradict with your current beliefs?”
edWeb as a platform for PD is done fairly regularly in South Park Elementary Center. Because teachers were excited and engaged in this type of PD, the program expanded from weeks to semesters and school years. The teachers also began to group topics based on their groupings at school. For example, the six second-grade teachers all picked the same topic and collected 60 different artifacts. A wealth of knowledge flowed when they held team meetings and had conversations around what they learned. The teachers then implemented the instructional practices as the final piece to this personalized PD.
As the person who’s doing PD, Furman firmly believes that principals need to change PD’s format. Principals need to model what they teach and present learning opportunities that address their relevance to teachers’ learning styles and engagement. Using the built-in resources of edWeb for personalized PD for teachers, educators can learn at their own pace and pick their interests, language, and cultural background in an accessible, safe, and collaborative environment.