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The Teacher Professional Development Controversy: Is It Just a Joke? Or More Effective Than Ever?

“I’m about as professionally developed as I need to be.”

Those are the actual sentiments about teacher professional development from Eddie B., a teacher turned comedian. He has a huge YouTube following of loyal teacher fans. Why?  Because he gets to the heart of their pain through laughter.

It’s no secret that the workload for teachers has become increasingly difficult with demands that seem unrealistic to fulfill. This has led to teacher shortages across the entire country. But now, with the hybrid of remote / face-to-face learning, ramped-up safety precautions due to COVID-19, and a greater diversity in students’ needs to add to the mix…teacher professional development is more critical than ever.

And teachers are seeking better professional development programs as another school year is underway with COVID-19 safety practices in place. Let’s look at the goals of teacher PD.

Goals of Professional Development

According to research completed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, student achievement can improve by as much as 21 percentile points if “teachers receive substantial professional development.”

We’ll revisit “substantial” in a moment. But first, let’s look at some of the goals administrators.

They may seek teacher professional development that

  • Trains teachers new technology
  • Prepares teachers for leadership positions
  • Creates awareness of different learning styles
  • Gains a deeper understanding of subject material or standards to be taught
  • Supports brand new teachers
  • Reviews school procedures or learn new ones
  • Learns time management and organizational skills

There is no doubt the value professional development provides teachers. So why has it caused teachers to cringe in the past?

PD Goals vs. Teacher Reality

According to an article from Education Week, What Do Teachers Really Want From Professional Development? Respect, by Sarah Schwartz, teachers’ needs haven’t been put first.

Here are some of their complaints:

  • Courses cover skills mastered years ago.
  • Courses are irrelevant to the subject they teach.
  • They are not given the freedom to choose what courses they need.

PD like this, teachers say, doesn’t respect their experience, expertise, or time.

Let’s face it. Teachers want to be in their classrooms teaching. BUT…they also want to improve their teaching skills—especially now as they are having to adjust to their new world post Covid.

What Teachers Really Want from Professional Development

Last year teachers felt there was a lack of guidance.  There was a mad dash to figure out how to move everything to remote learning and teaching suffered as a result. This caused confusion among students, teachers and parents.  And teachers want to be better prepared this year.

According to the Wall Street Journal article, Help Us Get Better at Remote Instruction, NYC Public School Teachers Ask by By Leslie Brody and Katie Honan, teachers want direction on how to better implement online learning in these areas:

  • Choosing the most important content for an online format
  • Assessing students’ understanding over a screen
  • Providing meaningful feedback when there is less direct interaction
  • Pacing and developing tasks for learning offline

So, when that precious time is consumed with training that isn’t even applicable to them… Do you wonder why they might see it as a joke?

Even if professional development has been a priority for district leaders, their efforts are worthless if teachers see it as a waste of time. So, how do we change this? Put teachers in the driver’s seat of their professional learning path.

Professional Development Best Practices

How do we keep our teachers informed and up to date on the latest skills, tools, and ways of teaching?

As the pandemic swept across our nation at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, teachers had to make immediate changes to the way they traditionally taught.

There was a mad dash to take their technical skills to a new level, find out what programs offered solutions, and keep students engaged all without traditional face-to-face instruction.

According to Education Week, this is what teachers need now:

Source: Education Week Reportinghttps://lh6.googleusercontent.com/AU0adF2xQ14VViRcG0M5u3W4YUMHmHRcSLwfkn-AhsfFB33FIUCw706Ur3MQID0F6nPtzOSMdA-mkLDKOO0VUSRootB-DXa_P6-rpyRMYI8Y3RDS5bycwVlPd8wHpweB4R9LyJxh

Teachers need “substantial” programs where they are getting specialized instruction that they need in specific areas. A “substantial” program would mean they are learning new ways of teaching, how to pivot in the wake of Covid-19, and filling learning gaps where they know they are lacking.

How District Leaders Can Meet the Professional Learning Needs of Their Teachers

For many years, administrators have expected teachers to provide differentiated instruction to their students. This means they are required to accommodate learners. They have to adjust their curriculum to make sense for the students by meeting them where they are.  Shouldn’t the same be expected of the administrators when it comes to teacher professional development?

Not all teachers need the same professional development. By providing teachers the opportunity to pick and choose the courses they want and need, professional development becomes much more effective. If district leaders and administrators respect their teachers and want the very best for them, teacher driven professional learning is a win win.

Teachers know where their weaknesses lie, what courses would fill those gaps, and are fully capable of doing it on their own schedule. The teachers are accountable for their learning and as a result… In the driver’s seat. A concept that’s long overdue.  And…that is no joke.

If you would like more information on how to promote teacher driven professional learning all-in-one learning platform, please feel free to reach out to us at info@mobilemind.io

MobileMind HQ beta has launched!

MobileMind HQ beta has launched! Even more exciting, all of our new features are now available to our districts and schools at no extra cost!  You have 60 days to opt in and take advantage of this incredible offer.  We have free webinars scheduled (beginning Oct 8), Click here for more info on the webinars and individual sessions, or go ahead and schedule a free virtual individualized coaching session with our success team.

MobileMind HQ extends our current product offering to allow districts to leverage the power of MobileMind for internal creation, communication, and reporting. As a group of former teachers and administrators, we understand the number of trainings, compliance modules, and PD initiatives that are required throughout a given year. Our goal with MobileMind HQ is to provide a single home to manage and report on these wide-ranging activities while leveraging MobileMind’s innovative and intuitive technology for improved results. As part of MobileMind HQ you’ll be able to:

Create

  • Courses - Create your own courses with challenges for your educators /staff based on the needs of your school/district. We’ve compiled a list of ideas to get you started.
  • Badges - Create your very own badges to award for completion of a set of MobileMind courses, your own courses, or a combination. 
  • Learning Paths - Create your own learning paths to curate a list of MobileMind courses, your own courses, or a combination.  Arrange them in any structure you wish for your educators and staff (Example: New Teacher Learning Path consisting of school policy courses you create, as well as some MobileMind Google training they will need to be successful.)

Review

  •  Review/Grade - Each course you create comes with a challenge that leverages multiple choice, text, URL, and image submissions. Anything beyond multiple choice (which are auto-graded) will appear on the organization's reviewer page for you and your team to evaluate.

Report

  • Enhanced reporting - In addition to enhancing our existing reports, we are introducing a Learning Path report and a Compliance report.  With this MobileMind hq compliance report, you will easily be able to see who has and has not completed learning paths, badges, or even individual courses.  (Example: If all new teachers must complete a New Teacher Learning Path, you will see at a glance who still needs to complete the training). Step by Step Instructions

Manage

  • Manage your teachers - Additionally, all district / school leaders will now have the ability to manage their own users and groups.  Step by Step Instructions 

As is normal for a beta product, we can’t guarantee a totally smooth ride. If you come across any issues, we’d love to hear about them. Please report any issues directly to the support team.

Orange Students head back to school with potential 3 phases including MobileMind

The following is taken from Orange Town News. Read the full report here.

Orange Town News, in Connecticut, are reporting that students are to return to the classroom from 31st August in a potential 3 phase approach having spent nearly a year out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Under what the district refers to as ‘key mitigation strategies,’ there will be mandatory face coverings, cleaning/hygiene protocols, cohorting, social distancing, a thorough cleaning of the HVAC system and families encouraged to drive students to school.

Vince Scarpetti, Superintendent, said; ‘The summer always passes by pretty fast, but by no surprise, this summer went by in a flash and a blink of an eye...Administrators, teachers and parents were very busy getting ready for the beginning of the school year.’

He said parents had a big decision to make, whether to send their kids back to school and that one of the biggest concerns from parents was around what remote learning will look like in the first phase.  “Another question that’s come up is ‘am I able to change my mind?’  Absolutely, yes,” Scarpetti says.  “This is a personal decision that families need to make based on what’s right for them.  We support all of you throughout this process.  The decision to change will take place on Monday of the following week.”

“I hope that we don’t enter Phase 2, which is hybrid, or Phase 3, which is total remote.  Why do I hope that?  Because that means the metrics have changed.  But in case we do, we need to be prepared,” he says.

Evelyn Russo, curriculum director for the district says the plan, whether in school or not, focuses on social-emotional lessons with consideration of the well-being of all children.  “We have to teach students about the new protocols and procedures.  We will teach students how to work remotely if we do need to make that shift.  We know that student achievement is based on staff development,” she says.

Staff has spent the summer learning new tools and resources that they’ll need to use in today’s changed world.  “We are going to rely on MobileMind, which has learning paths and micro-courses that teach in minute-long videos and then a task which a teacher engages in and submits for feedback,” Russo explains. “They’re really internalizing the learning by actually doing it and then getting feedback. It will allow teachers to increase their knowledge at whatever level they are.  We needed teachers to become familiar with all of our distance learning tools and digital resources.”

Want to see how MobileMind can assist with your phased return to school? Simply click here to book a call with one of our team.

MobileMind in the NEWS: Electronic Education Report

Pandemic Highlights Connectivity and Preparedness

July 10, 2020: Volume 27, Number 14

The below is an exerpt from July 10, 2020: Volume 27, Number 14 of the Electronic Education Report.

Importance of PD

Tyce Miller, CEO at the personalized virtual professional development provider MobileMind (Atlanta), said many schools were not prepared for a distance learning environment because their teachers were not up to speed on how to leverage technology to teach remotely. The teachers need connection, equipment and the ability to use it effectively.

It is not just students who will need distance learning, according to Miller, teachers also will need anytime, anywhere professional learning assistance. Schools will need to be thoughtful and intentional with the goals they set for teachers, so they are not overwhelmed. Miller said teachers need to learn more than how to use a tool, they need to learn why the tool is necessary to how they instruct students.

Schools were thrust into survival mode when the pandemic hit, according to Miller, going into the new school year they need to advance to effective collaboration that engages students.

Noting any situation has a silver lining, Miller said what educators have experienced could propel them to the next level as they will not be able to go back to what they did before. For example, teachers who declined to use Google Classroom may now find it necessary. Leadership and culture will give some districts the edge; when the instructional departments and the IT departments are aligned, the results will be positive, Miller said.

The NEW MobileMind!

MobileMind is thrilled to announce the official launch of our new and improved personalized professional learning hub!  From distance learning to Google certifications, we have schools covered with the simplest and most effective professional learning solution for leaders, teachers, and staff!  We’ve already received some amazing feedback from those who are already learning in the new version of our platform, and we are excited to show you some highlights! 

With new streamlined onboarding upon logging in for the first time, learners tell us a little about themselves so we can point them in the right direction. 

We suggest a learning path to get our educators started, but learners are always welcome to explore on their own.

Another fresh feature is the personalized dashboard page, tailored for each learner!  The widgets on this page may change daily based on a learner’s achievements, progress, and feedback.  In addition, the dashboard provides learners with announcements from us or their leaders and updates from Google.  Learners can even submit a support ticket right form their dashboard, and our educator support team is waiting to help them as they progress through their micro-courses!

Our new filtering features make it easier than ever for learners to find what they are looking for.  From the Learn tab, educators can now search by Learning Paths, such as Distance Learning, Google Certification Level 1, or Special Education.  

Learners now have an at-a-glance view of which micro-courses must be completed in order to earn desired badges, which demonstrate competency of a particular skill or set of skills.

In the In Progress tab, courses are now separated by courses learners have begun, which courses need review, and which courses have been submitted and are awaiting feedback.

The Achievements tab displays all micro-courses completed, all badges earned, and all completed Learning Paths.

Learners will still see the challenge window appear when they launch a challenge, which contains the video and challenge instructions.  This box still follows learners as they complete their challenge, so the video and instructions are always at their fingertips.

After submitting a challenge, learners will even see a few suggestions for relevant courses so they can hop right into another micro-course to continue their learning!

Finally, leaders still have visibility into learner progress as educators engage with the MobileMind micro-courses.

We would love to give you a live tour of our platform and answer any questions you may have about our personalized learning solution.  Want to learn more?  Click here to schedule a call!

What School Leaders need to know about Distance Learning

Distance Learning is becoming the new normal. As schools and districts learn to adapt, we would love to share a few things school leaders want to know about transitioning to a distance learning model.  Below we’ve shared some highlights regarding what we know about how to successfully implement a distance learning or blended model.  In addition, we’ve included some things you might wish to avoid as you roll out your virtual or blended learning initiatives.

Do
✔️ Communicate clear and strategic professional learning goals and expectations to teachers, leaders, and staff

Don’t
❌ Leave it to teachers, leaders, and staff to wonder what it is they should be doing - or the "why?" behind it 

✔️ Meet educators and staff where they are, and create reasonable timelines to demonstrate competency and growth 

❌ Overwhelm teachers by trying to "boil the ocean" - or by expecting instant proficiency for all learners

✔️ Encourage educators and staff to personalize their learning in our platform when possible

❌ Require all teachers/staff to complete the same exact courses or learning pathways from start to finish

✔️ Reassure teachers and staff that we will all work through this challenging time together, and that imperfection is acceptable

❌ Allow the stress of our current climate to set a tone grounded in urgency, anxiety, and perfectionism

✔️ Consider incentivizing your top learners to share with and support others through this journey

❌ Immediately penalize those who aren't quite "getting it" without first offering support

Distance learning isn’t a prescribed formula, but we hope our recommendations help you get started on the right foot as we prepare our educators for a unique and potentially unpredictable 2020-2021 school year.

Click here to find our Distance Learning Resources for Google.

Distance Learning Essentials: Google Slides

What is Google Slides?

With Google Slides, schools have the capability to create and present wherever they are - and from any device. This web-based tool is integrated into your Google Drive and can be located when you select a new file, along with Google Docs and Forms. Slides is a great way to enhance standard-looking presentations - minus the convoluted process. Whether you’re new to Slides or setting up online presentations from scratch, you can choose from a vast array of themes and fonts, then embed videos and animations with ease. 

Like many tools in G Suite for Education, Google Slides is a highly-collaborative application. As long as you have an internet connection, Slides can be accessed from a remote location - ideal for carrying out virtual team meetings and lessons for training, demonstration and revision purposes via a Google Hangouts Meet session.

Benefits for Teachers

  • Save time by choosing from a wide range of presentation themes and templates
  • Proficiently format slides, change text, import images or videos and more 
  • Browse a variety of themes designed for use by schools - from notepad and blackboard to modern, science and technology - with fun and eye-catching graphics! 
  • Create and edit Slides from your smartphone, tablet or desktop
  • Ability to view Slides with both online and offline access
  • Edits are made in real-time and changes are auto-saved, so you’ll always operate from the most current version of Slides
  • Track previous versions of your presentation using the Revision History feature
  • Compatible with Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, allowing you to open, edit, save and convert to Google Slides 
  • Securely share Slides by email or as a Google Drive link, with controlled access to view, edit or comment
  • Chat with students or colleagues directly or post comments to their attention
  • Publish online using a secure link or embed Slides into your school’s website or blog

Google Slides for Distance Learning

Google Slides is a practical and creative solution to ramping up the engagements and collaboration levels. Teachers can create a slide deck to support video lessons they’re presenting via Google Hangouts Meet or assignments using Google Docs. In turn, students can produce their own Google Slides to accompany virtual presentations to their teacher or to small groups and entire classes online. Not only is this a more engaging style of teaching, it will stimulate your students’ creativity and communication skills.

Why not go even further to create interactive adventure stories and digital books for each subject? Another great idea is to get students involved in ongoing assignments, such as producing interactive journals and portfolios. With Google Slides, teachers can check on their students’ progress at regular intervals with the view and comment features. Your virtual class’ development during any distance learning period can also be shared by keeping department heads and parents informed with recurring presentation reports. 

We’re Here to Help You...

At MobileMind, we’re committed to supporting schools for short- and long-term distance learning. We understand it’s a difficult adjustment period - which is why we’re here to help. Take a look at our tips and advice on how practical and easy-to-use online applications, like Google Slides, will benefit your school.

Find out more about Distance Learning tools from Google

Click here to visit the MobileMind Live page

Distance Learning Essentials: Google Hangouts Meet

What is Google Hangouts Meet?

Google Hangouts Meet, or just Meet, gives educators face-to-face time with their students - the best alternative to teaching from a physical classroom. With Hangouts Meet, schools can maintain the flow of communication - between students, parents, guardians and fellow faculty members - across a secure platform. You may automatically associate video conferencing with the corporate sector, however; Google Hangouts Meet is an essential tool for educators when it comes to distance learning.  Individual, small groups or classes (up to 250 participants until September 30, 2020 for G Suite customers). 

Now, schools can broadcast live lessons amongst small groups or classes (up to 250 participants for free), run 1:1 or board meetings, as well as schedule calls with the aid of Google Calendar. That’s not all - schools can record training and instructional videos for offline access too. 

Benefits for Teachers

  • Simple to set-up regular classes via the Hangouts Meet, through a Calendar invite, or by using the Meet link within each Google Classroom
  • More than one way to add participants, either by video link or phone, with dedicated numbers and a unique PIN to keep the conversation secure
  • Ability to share your screen during lessons and to visually walk students through any issues during individual or small group sessions
  • Present Google Slides that can be shared as supplemental learning resources
  • Microphones and chat features allow students to actively participate 
  • Teachers can pre-record sessions and share these for future offline viewing - ideal for internet issues and revision purposes
  • Use Hangouts Meet to keep parents and guardians informed about their children’s progress, issues or concerns
  • Consider using Digital Training for Students - with free video lessons to increase their knowledge about using Google eLearning platforms
  • Encourage your class to become an online community by teaching them how to start a Hangouts Meet call so they can virtually collaborate on assignments in pairs or groups (this feature has to be turned on by your Google Administrator for your district)

Google Hangouts Meet for Distance Learning

To tackle the feeling of isolation and nurture a sense of community, Google Hangouts Meet allows teachers to see, listen and speak to their students, which effectively minimizes the distance in distance learning. Virtual lessons, demonstrations and catch-ups can be scheduled or conducted at your convenience, and sustain a free-flowing channel of communication. This will improve the level of engagement and understanding and help teachers recognize any gaps in learning - with real-time chats, Q&As and group interactions.

The major benefits for distance learning are the offline opportunities for schools. Hangouts Meet allows teachers to pre-record or share recorded sessions to avoid internet connectivity issues disrupting distance learning (Google Docs, Sheets and Slides can be accessed this way too - in offline mode). If students are unable to attend virtual classes, these recordings can be saved and watched at a later date. Simply organize these in clearly color-coded folders in your Google Drive, then send shareable links to view the videos via Google Classroom, email or your school website.

Google Hangouts Meet even benefits parents, guardians and caregivers who have been thrust into the interim teacher role - they will need a bit of support from schools too. 

We’re Here to Help You...

At MobileMind, we’re committed to supporting schools for short- and long-term distance learning. We understand it’s a difficult adjustment period - which is why we’re here to help. Take a look at our tips and advice on how practical and easy-to-use online applications, like Google Hangouts Meet, will benefit your school.

Find out more about Distance Learning tools from Google

Click here to visit the MobileMind Live page

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