[Professional Development] Personalized Learning for Teachers

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 -- Scott Sterling

As we all strive toward providing personalized learning experiences for students, we sometimes forget that teachers need to learn in school as well. Unfortunately, professional development (PD) opportunities often come in a “sit and get” format. Let’s work to improve PD by taking some of the ideas we’re using in the classroom and apply them to teacher learning as well. Here are four strategies to start with:

Collaboration

We have students collaborate on classroom activities for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to provide chances for a more personalized learning experience without having students go off completely on their own. The same can be said for making PD more collaborative. For example, there are some teachers who are simply more technologically inclined than others. Give these individuals opportunities to work and brainstorm with one another in order to keep them consistently engaged, challenged, and enthusiastic about technology.

Self-directed studies

There are topics and strategies out there that every teacher would like to explore if he or she only had the extra time and resources to do so. While time and resources will always be a challenge when it comes to PD, it’s important to make an effort toward providing teachers with opportunities to develop in their own ways. The ability to learn independently can pay off in terms of engagement and in the greatest education challenge of them all: teacher retention. It may be as simple as replacing one faculty meeting per month with a “genius hour”—many teachers are already doing so for their students in the classroom.

Online resources

PD resources for teachers have been slower to move online than curricula and content for students, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible for you to find resources, even if you do have to go off the beaten path. For example, you may want teachers to participate in diversity training, which is usually done in person. But what about providing a bank of activities, TED Talks, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and other applicable materials on the topic that teachers can work through at their own pace? You can either check for learning online in a message board or gather teachers together for a short wrap-up session.

Flip meetings

On the other hand, sometimes in-person PD sessions simply must be held. However, there are ways to make sure that they are efficient and beneficial. One of the benefits of flipped learning is personalization. Applying the concept to your faculty meetings lets teachers get the background information they need at their own pace and then practice concepts more deeply during the in-person time. Simply send out the relevant information via email, video, etc., before the actual meeting. Everyone will be able to spend the time more wisely and explore the topic at hand more deeply.

Looking for more tips to get the most out of your back-to-school PD? Check out this post on the 3 Essential Aspects for a Blended Learning Professional Development Session!