Here are some high-value professional development opportunities with low-dollar budgets.
Form peer groups. In this scenario, teachers in different subject areas work together. For instance, social studies and English classes could complete an integrated unit. That would allow teachers to learn from and rely on one another, explains Dr. MaryFriend Shepard, coordinator of the Ph.D. Educational Technology Specialization in the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University.
Highlight resident experts. One teacher might be a video pro, and another might be great at creating wikis. While working with a school in Guatemala, one of Shepard’s colleagues noticed that its teachers put signs on their doors identifying their areas of expertise so that others could come to them for advice.
When in doubt, check for training videos. YouTube is one of the richest resources out there for teachers to learn technology, Shepard says.
Turn students into teachers. Students who participate in Baltimore City Public Schools’ Infinity Tech Team program train teachers and support them as they use technology in their classrooms. “It’s a natural fit for the students,” says Mike Smith, a functional analyst with the district’s Teacher Student Support group.
Model active learning. When Baltimore City Public Schools had one summer to train 6,000 teachers to record attendance in the district’s student-management system, Functional Analyst Ron Beazer and his team designed a series of online training modules for staff and faculty.
Between May and June, 75 percent of the teachers completed the training, so the technology support team had to train only a quarter of the staff. “It would have been a logistical nightmare to offer training to 6,000 teachers over the summer,” Beazer says.
The modules are still available for new teachers “without any additional cost,” he adds.