Proper Professional Development Increases Confidence. It Should:

Continue to grow individual roles as lifelong learners

Increase educator ability to better serve the student population

Create an intrinsic drive for progress, which in turn raises the bar for performance

Encourage a culture centered on motivation and improvement

“PD” Should Actually Mean “Professional Development”

For experienced Educators, the calendar reminder for upcoming “PD” may often lack the excitement it once provoked. Instead, they might think about sitting in the gym, listening to a vendor teach them how to use some device they sold the district, and meanwhile they’d rather have the time back in their day for things more relevant to them personally. But wait, shouldn’t “PD” actually develop people professionally? When did “PD” stop meaning what it actually means?

In no other industry is it considered a waste of time to develop yourself professionally. If you have a new skill you’d like to learn or an organization method you’d like to implement, you get some professional development and you grow yourself in that way. Education should be no different. The precious time an educator devotes to professional development should actually help them develop as educators. That’s not to say vendors can’t be a part of that, but regardless of internal or external focus, it’s imperative that time be well spent to help us grow within our respective areas. For some that may mean an online course in time management to better run their day. For others, that may mean a conference with sessions on implementing a flipped classroom environment in a district where many students don’t have internet access at home. And for others, it may be leadership training as they take on more responsibility on their way to becoming a campus principal.

Yes, training is still important – especially when the software or hardware is required – but more than just training on new purchases, let’s make “PD” something we look forward to because it adds value, helps us grow, and betters us as educators. In return, we can better impact the lives of those in our care.


Goal-Setting: Improve Stakeholder Engagement on Your Campus

Many campuses understand the importance of setting goals, but how many are setting specific goals around improving their communication and engagement with parents? What goal setting strategies are they using? Discover how to set attainable goals in a way that can be both motivating and effective for increasing parent engagement.
“Having structure and plans in place can be a huge step toward actually showing measurable results and progress at the end of the year. And by setting the example for organization and communication, you’ll be empowering your staff to then do the same—creating an overall school climate of planning, purpose, and progress!”

Parent Engagement Best Practices

Successful parent engagement starts with relevant student data and meaningful communication. Watch two lifelong educators, Jay and Tyler, discuss the tools necessary for achieving parent engagement.

PD as a Secret Weapon

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to find that most of your students don’t know the association between a cassette tape and a no. 2 pencil. But then you’d probably also be hard-pressed to find someone over thirty who can effectively navigate SnapChat. Point being that times change, and if we aren’t all continuously making efforts to keep up with the changes, it can be easy to become disconnected from both the students we want to reach as well as the methods required to reach them. Professional development, in-service, continuing education; whatever your district calls it, it can often be seen as an inconvenience in the work day. There’s never enough time for immediate tasks, let alone time to focus on one’s own growth. Nevertheless, Professional Development is often the secret weapon of successful, well-ranked districts. Instead of spending gobs of money on expensive tech solutions or trendy initiatives, superintendents who know that the most important assets are their people are rewarded with motivated, informed, and happy educators as well as more successful students. In fact, according to the National Education Association, 92 percent of teachers who are offered guidance in their first year return as compared to 84 percent of teachers with no formal guidance. When districts focus on the human behind the numbers, real growth is able to happen both for educators as well as students.

Learning Lab Checklist

It doesn’t matter how ground-breaking your new EdTech solution is if your team isn’t actually using it. Here are some questions to ask when evaluating technology solutions.

Unexpected Learning Communities

One of the most fabulous advantages of the age in which we live is the connectivity we find online and our ability to reach a like-minded community at any time. The opportunities for personal discovery and advancement through blogs and social media are a portal to growth unlike ever before. Effective educators recognize that just like the team that supports each and every student, it is also possible to create a team of support for yourself. Whether it is through professional learning communities on your campus, #edchats on Twitter, virtual book clubs or even one’s parent network, the camaraderie and unique support necessary to thrive in education is available simply by making one’s growth a priority and reaching out.

It might be surprising to think about parents as an important component of the professional development process, but parents are, in fact, integral to educator success. Identifying hurdles common to your set of students is one of the first steps in identifying and then utilizing professional development resources that address your unique challenges – and ultimately moves the needle for your students. Viewing each student holistically requires healthy relationships with parents and families. At the end of the day, professional development is an effort to improve teaching in order to improve student success. Why then, would professional development start anywhere besides the core of the student’s life?


How to Best Manage ‘Tech-spec-tations’

Education technology leaders are unlike any other IT professionals. Not only do you have to understand the current technology trends, but you have to understand how it will impact a student’s educational experience for better or worse.
“The most important skill you can develop alongside leadership is managing expectations. As Technology is such a widespread function of district life, there are going to be seemingly endless expectations held of your department coming from multiple directions. This ability to manage those expectations will not only help you become a more effective and efficient leader, but also help you build stronger relationships with your less technical peers along the way.”
From engaging students to connecting teachers, streamlining administrative tasks to HR and payroll, technology plays a crucial role in all aspects of your district. Learn how to best manage technology expectations.

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