Not to state the obvious, but education is in a time of dynamic change. This change will affect not just this school year, but long into the future of what education may be for our children and grandchildren. It is important, then, to rethink how education leaders, teachers, and parents/guardians prepare for each school year so that students can still meet, or exceed, learning goals and objectives. Beyond what can be seen on paper, education also supports a child’s need to experience, explore, and apply learning to real-life now and in the future. To do this successfully, teachers who are now dealing with a virtual classroom environment must adjust their teaching practises. Why? Because remote learning requires specific skills such as conducting classes using video conferencing, sharing content in different ways, and providing feedback on student assignments and projects.
Raise your hand if professional development days before the new school year are your absolute favourite? That’s what I thought (hands still clutching cup of tea). Even as one who used to plan and facilitate PD days, motivation for setting up the classroom outweighed the desire to review the previous year’s accomplishments and develop plans for improvement. Yes, those topics should be evaluated and discussed, but the anticipation of having a class full of different learners and personalities is much more exciting! This school year, many educators are still waiting to find out how teaching and learning will happen – physical classroom, virtual classroom, blend of both? As we all wait with bated breath, what professional development options are available for teachers at home?
At one time in my career, I engaged in, facilitated, and tried to stay awake through quite a few professional development sessions. Most were mandated and scheduled right before school started in the hopes that something would transform our practise so much that 100% of our students mastered all learning objectives in the school year. After a few weeks of teaching, many of us were overwhelmed and discouraged that all those exciting strategies and techniques didn’t work with every situation, every subject, or every student. I do not envy school leadership tasked with the responsibility of selecting and organising professional development each year.