March 17, 2021
To be successful in remote and hybrid education models, ongoing professional development is a must-have for school districts.
Teachers have been thrust head-first into the world of education technology, and they are entering at various levels of tech-savvy — from digital pros to first-time Zoom users.
There can be a steep learning curve when picking up any individual tech tool, let alone multiple tools at once, and teachers are feeling the pressure to be on top of their digital game.
The push for teachers to up their tech skills is not just about efficiency. If teachers aren’t able to use technology effectively, it puts their students at a disadvantage in remote learning. A teacher who cannot manage the settings for virtual classroom software is not able to keep control of the learning environment. If there’s a roadblock to creating or sending digital assignments, students may fall behind in educational development.
Your teachers need continued remote education training so your students don’t miss out on a quality education.
In a remote or hybrid scenario, how do you prepare teachers and provide the needed camaraderie among staff, while also ensuring they can provide an environment for students to be successful? Here are some considerations for your district when rolling out professional development initiatives.
While it’s best to leverage dedicated instructors for primary training, keep in mind that professional development flourishes as a team effort with faculty members supporting each other.
Some of your teachers will be digital pros who pick up new software tools with ease, needing only one training session to grasp the functions and features. Others will need more time, support, and repetition to get comfortable using a new tool. Ask the quick learners to get involved in helping their colleagues troubleshoot small issues or navigate common questions.
Having teachers help each other can be one way to build camaraderie among your remote staff. This also allows your dedicated instructors to focus on the staff members who need more one-on-one assistance or additional training support.
Remote education opens the door for revolutionary technology that enhances learning, and also for accompanying risks to student privacy. When training teachers on remote education tools, it’s important to touch on compliance from a privacy point of view.
For instance, there are many tech tools out there that allow teachers to view a student’s screen anytime their camera is on. If a student accidentally leaves their camera on at a particular time, this brings obvious liability challenges.
Understand what types of tools or options your EdTech vendors provide to protect your staff from liability issues related to student privacy. Educate your teachers on what to do in the case of a privacy-breaching incident, and on preventive measures to avoid accidental student privacy violations that may occur from a lack of tech-savvy.
Training for remote education isn’t just about the technical skills. Distance learning requires teachers to learn a whole new set of skills for classroom management.
Teachers are facing new types of challenges and interruptions in their digital classrooms. Their familiar ways of mediating student behavior don’t work in a remote setting, and this can quickly throw the learning atmosphere out of balance.
Professional development initiatives should go beyond technical training and tutorials, to also include new approaches to managing student behavior through the screen. Teachers need to understand how to quickly use the ‘mute’ and ‘unmute’ features, control camera and video settings, and monitor all participants in a virtual room.
A good EdTech vendor will be prepared with materials and resources around how to use their product that you can leverage with your staff. Whether through training sessions for teachers, written guides, or other instructional content, vendors should be thinking about how they can help educators get up to speed with their tech solution.
Ask your EdTech vendors what content they can provide — such as FAQ resources, instructional webinars, and courses, or user guides — that you can distribute to your faculty and staff. If you’re not currently using the full amount of support time that’s offered in your contract, ask to devote some of that time to have your vendor provide training sessions; or purchase additional hours of support for this. Record the sessions and post them on an internal page available to your educators.
If your technology budget is tight, consider how else you can offer value to your vendor in exchange for their time and expertise. For example, you may be able to gain training courses by participating in a case study for your vendor.
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