What if we looked at Professional Development differently in 2018? Rather than seeing it as something you have to do, what about reframing it as something you want to do? These very questions are at the heart of some of the changes we are implementing at the Einstein Project.
Gone are the days of required kit-specific trainings only available for a single week in July. We know from participant feedback that teachers appreciate the lesson walk-throughs and the tips & tricks they receive in our past professional development sessions. We also know that this was too expensive for districts to sustain, as well as time-consuming for educators, especially when they moved grade levels and were required to attend additional trainings.
Our new philosophy of professional development is stimulated by the adoption of Wisconsin’s Standards for Science, which are based on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and the need to teach students differently. Newton’s Laws of Motion haven’t changed, but how they are taught and learned needs to.
So, what does this type of professional development look like?
- Timely (just-in-time) – we’ve scheduled the times Science 101 and Engineering 101 are given so that it’s relevant to what you are doing in the classroom and it corresponds with when your kit arrives. These trainings are offered a variety of times throughout the year and are available in different formats for your convenience.
- Short, manageable chunks – time is one of the biggest obstacles in teaching. We want to respect your time and balance between personal and professional responsibilities. This is why we aim to keep our trainings during the school year between 1-2 hours. The kit tutorials are done in 1-2 minute recorded video clips per lesson so you are able to watch them when you want, in the time that you have, while preparing your lessons.
- Continuous (not a one-and-done) – research shows that effective PD allows teachers adequate time to learn, practice, implement and reflect on strategies that facilitate changes to their teaching practice. (Effective Teacher Professional Development, June 5, 2017) We are looking at offering book studies and webinar series to keep in contact with participants on a routine, consistent basis so we can help them along on their journey to improving their instructional practices.
So, ask yourself, “What do I want to do to improve my teaching practices?” Challenge yourself to make one small, manageable change in the next month. Choose something that is timely, short, and continuous. Maybe it’s reading an issue of Science & Children magazine to learn about the 5E model of instruction. It could also be creating a new board on Pinterest that inspires you to provide maker-mindset moments for your students. Please share what you are going to try or have tried in the comment section. I’d love to hear about it.