I support educators by designing customized professional development resources for those seeking to improve their practice. To plan meaningful learning for educators, I bring my own experiences as a former educator, both informing what effective PD looks like and what it doesn’t. When I designed professional development for New York City educators on blended learning, I modeled a true blended learning environment for participants (you won’t believe how many workshops I’ve attended on blended learning that don’t actually blend the learning). My goal was to help teachers learn more about blended learning by learning about it in practice, otherwise implementation rarely occurs. By design, my blended learning PD provided differentiated paths to learning, various online media resources, self-paced tasks, and data-informed instruction. During planning, I ensured every educator that attended my blended learning PD would walk away with new strategies to implement blended learning. Although I had prepared an effective PD, I was surprised by the obstacles we encountered later.
In practice, modeling blended learning the way I had envisioned was a challenge. Depending on where we hosted the blended learning workshop, we had to work around wireless internet issues, websites blocked by proxies, and a lack of tech devices for all participants. It’s clear the motivation was there — the teachers wanted to learn, but were held back due to the archaic, structural roadblocks rooted within our dated education infrastructure. Naturally, this only harms teachers who go to PD thinking they have 90 minutes to learn and explore, but end up with only 45 minutes (or sometimes less). Since roadblocks to learning and lack of resources is not uncharted territory for educators, I’m always met with patience and resilience as we work through the problems together so learning can take place.
At Kiddom, we’re trying our best to work around technology constraints and we’re also learning a lot as we do. Moving forward, we’re providing headphones for blended learning sessions and printed resources and guides for those without a device. Of course, we’re always available for short, 1-on-1 consults, which participants can schedule as follow-up to our PD session. While there’s a lot of work left to be done, we’re excited the educators that do attend our professional development experiences leave our sessions saying, “This was the first time I’ve attended a session where they modeled the practice.” I sincerely hope more educators start expecting to attend a blended learning PD and see the practice modeled. With the rise of tech devices available to schools, more educators should speak up and demand quality professional development on blended learning. This goes not only for Kiddom, but for others that operate in education technology: we must exceed expectations for educators as they prepare students for the workplace in the 21st century.
So I’m asking you, educators, what are the best ways in which you’ve learned about blended learning? What are some PD approaches that we haven’t thought of? What more can be done to bring engaging PD working around tech constraints? If you’ve experienced similar obstacles, how did you problem solve? I would love to hear and learn from you!
Reach out to us for professional development support or to collaborate with us. We’d love to learn more about your school community and its educator learning needs!