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As part of my Good vs Great Teacher series, this week we will focus on Professional Development. ALL great teachers are teachable! Being teachable includes professional development and learning new things that help teachers become more effective. Remember our acronym from last week? GREAT stands for

  • G oes the extra mile
  • R eflects on their teaching
  • E ncourages learning
  • A ssesses students’ learning
  • T eachable

Blast from the Past

Did you know that teachers didn’t always have to have degrees?  Most of the early teachers in the United States were just good students around 14 or 15 years old.  One famous teacher and author was Laura Ingles Wilder. She was 15 years old without a teaching degree or certificate!  More information about the history of teachers can be found in the book Teachers: Then and Now by Roben Alecron (2007). So why the change and push for degrees and continued professional development? This is the “proof” for  effective teachers. What are your options when it comes to professional development and is there one better than the other?

Professional Development: On Demand or in Real Time 

Professional development is changing as fast as technology. Teachers have a lot more options when it comes to professional development.  Basically teachers are now in charge of their learning. Traditionally, teachers signed up for classes and waited until the day they would attend the classroom on a college campus. With the addition of the internet, teachers now have access to training seminars that they only wished they could attend. The cost of webinar sessions is far less compared to face to face professional development. Most webinars are offered for free. The one factor that causes some reluctance is the time zone differences.

I know for me, during the school year, I can’t attend the webinar “live” because it is offered when I am teaching.  More and more webinars are now offering the option of “on demand”. This means you can watch when it works for your schedule. Another great advantage, you can skip to the most important parts. This is a great alternative, but you may not have the option of receiving PD credits or renewal units. Attending webinars in real time have many benefits,too. You can ask questions and receive credit for your attendance. However, may be stuck in a “DEATH by PowerPoint” situation.  Sometimes you need to take your chance, and hope for the best. Next week, I will be offering a webinar hosted by Big Universe. I hope you will join me in real time and ask your questions.  If not, it will be available for download afterwards.

Personally, I have enjoyed taking classes in a traditional way as well as attending webinars. I don’t feel one is better as both are providing ways to improve my practice. However, there are so many more options available to teachers now, from webinars giving information on specific teaching strategies to behavioral management. Webinars offer a great way for teachers to be trained in their own homes.

As you make your summer professional development plans to become a GREAT teacher, don’t forget about webinars as an alternative for college classes!

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