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Lifelong Learning: How Teachers Develop New Skills and Improve Their Practice

This is a written response to an article for my Master's Class.

 Professional development is a major focus for administrators and teachers. Now, more than ever, there is a huge push for teachers to continue learning and improving their craft, especially since it is now tied to evaluation of teachers. This article looks at different ways that teachers can find professional development online for teaching and technology integration.

 One such example was selecting professional development to support a digital transition. The case study comes from Des Plains, IL last year. The school district partnered with Discovery Education to allow teachers to design, implement, and share innovative teaching strategies while utilizing the technology tools in their classrooms. The professional development process spans across multiple years. Other than professional development online courses, the article looks at other ways that teachers can collaborate.

 Teachers at a middle school in Clear Lake, Iowa created a Professional Learning Community or PLC. This is like a blog or social media group where teachers can collaborate with other teachers and professionals. In this case, teachers are implementing real world problem based learning. This allows teachers and students to communicate and collaborate with real world professionals in their areas of study. An 8th grade language arts teacher said that using Google Docs and Drive made it very easy to communicate with her colleagues.

 Lastly the article goes into how when an administrator observes a teacher, the observation is immediately shared with the teacher, using Google Drive, including where the teacher should focus on professional development. The article ends with a list of tips for offering professional development.

 This topic is very important since many schools are working to put a device in each student's hands. Teachers are expected to be experts in how the technology in their classrooms work and must be able to troubleshoot devices as well. Since this is an area that is constantly changing, there will be an ongoing need for teachers to learn new devices and strategies to implement the technology.

 In my school district, one of the biggest areas teachers want to see improve is professional development for teachers integrating technology. I personally am in the process of creating a PLC for teachers using Google Classroom. The goal of this PLC is to allow teachers to share ideas and troubleshoot problems with Google Classroom. It will also make it easier for the IT department to communicate and see what the teacher/user end looks like. This is accomplished through Google Drive. This tool was chosen so teachers can become more familiar with Google's tools that Classroom will require prerequisite knowledge of.

 Making professional development more meaningful to the teacher's own practice allows for greater implementation of the skills learned. PLCs offer a way for teachers to conveniently get help or learn new skills at their own pace and at their own time. The more convenient and easily accessible the PD, the more likely the teacher is to utilize it.


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