professional learning opportunities

Professional Learning Opportunities to Retain Teachers

The classroom environment is continually changing. New technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), promise to revolutionize how teachers teach and how students learn. To keep pace, teachers need modern professional development opportunities that expand beyond pedagogy and classroom management workshops. However, educators are already overwhelmed by the demands of the job and have little time to engage in their own learning.

Adding to the strain are teacher shortages, which persist even as the post-pandemic “Great Resignation” abates. Many educators, unsatisfied or frustrated with their jobs, are leaving the field, and school leaders trying to fill vacancies have a smaller pool of candidates from which to choose as enrollment in teacher prep programs continues to decline. Every unfilled position adds to the workload of the remaining teachers. It is not uncommon for educators to lose planning time to cover an absent peer’s class.

Teachers need access to sustained professional learning opportunities that are available on demand, easily accessible, and learner friendly. They need professional development (PD) that is relevant to their career stage and position in the district. PD should also be fun and foster a school culture supporting lifelong learning.

Modernizing PD to meet these needs will ensure that educators can grow professionally and find more satisfaction in their careers, making them less likely to leave. Creating a program that can accomplish this may seem impossible, but while technology has increased the demands on PD programs, it also offers tools to meet those demands.

Why Modernizing PD Is Necessary

For teachers who began their careers as schools were wiring for the World Wide Web, this is not the first time that technology has pushed them to reimagine their classrooms. Internet connectivity gave students unprecedented access to information, and the advance of mobile technology put connectivity in their pockets. Educators needed to learn how to best harness these tools. Districts are currently finding that the format of traditional PD programs is not meeting the challenges that rapidly evolving technology presents.

Teachers bring a broad range of experiences, knowledge, and skills to their classrooms. Their PD needs vary based on their school positions and career stages. Traditionally, PD takes a one-size-fits-all approach. In-person group versions may be useful for introducing new district initiatives or completing mandated training, but for PD to be truly effective, educators need personalized professional learning opportunities. Newcomers have different needs than veterans, and a high school health teacher will need a different learning path than one that an elementary school teacher would follow. Educators need choices in their learning to find the best fit for their needs and career goals.

Traditional PD programs are fragmented, with weeks or months between day-long sessions. While participants may come away from a PD Day enthusiastic about new ideas, trying to absorb large amounts of information in one sitting, with no opportunity to implement new concepts or receive feedback, means much of the learning will be lost. Additionally, students lose those days in the school calendar. A modern approach to PD can remedy these problems.

What Do Modern Professional Learning Opportunities Look Like?

Research on how adults learn shows that they best acquire knowledge and skills in regular increments. Immediate feedback and opportunities to apply new learning in real-world situations better fix new concepts in the mind. Short lessons that target specific skills are also more easily integrated into a learner’s knowledge structure. Stacking lessons so they become progressively more challenging builds a deeper level of knowledge and skill.

Teachers need PD opportunities that are available when they have time to learn. Fortunately, advances in mobile technology make it possible for educators to pursue their PD goals when and where it is convenient for them.

Modern programs enable educators to select learning paths most relevant to their needs. They offer interactive, engaging lessons with built-in motivators. The contemporary approach to PD makes learning fun and can create a district-wide culture of learning as faculty and staff engage in friendly competition.

Creating a program that meets these needs may seem daunting, but school leaders can easily offer these kinds of learning opportunities to their employees by leveraging the latest innovations in PD.

How to Create a Modern Professional Development Program with MobileMind

MobileMind is a cloud-based professional learning hub. Educators log in and complete learning activities at their own pace. They may access the hub through a browser extension or a mobile app, making it available anywhere at any time. Learners do not need to set aside large blocks of time for PD; they can fit short lessons into their weekly schedule for regular, continuous learning.

With MobileMind, a district’s PD activities, both virtual learning and in-person programs, are integrated into one space, streamlining planning and tracking. Education leaders can create learning paths and lessons specifically designed for their teachers' needs. They can set goals and track the progress of individuals and groups. Scheduling and registration for group seminars and workshops is simplified with MobileMind Events.

Unlike the passive learning of traditional PD programs, school leaders can offer interactive lessons with guided learning and hands-on challenges. Learners progress through lessons at their own pace, giving them time to understand new concepts before moving on to more challenges. Once they master a targeted skill, they are rewarded with badges and a position on the leaderboard. This gamification of learning is motivational and fun. As they progress along their chosen learning path, they are awarded micro-credentials to verify their skills.

Offer Relevant, Engaging, and Rewarding PD to Retain Teachers and Attract New Talent

Technology has been changing the classroom environment. The COVID-19 pandemic and the mainstreaming of AI have accelerated these changes. PD programs need modernization to keep pace. By offering relevant and convenient PD, school districts can keep their teachers up to date on the newest findings in the field and provide them with the professional learning opportunities that they want and need. These will help improve job satisfaction and teacher retention, and MobileMind makes it possible.

Most professional development programs only specialize in one thing. MobileMind offers personalized, activity-based learning with reporting and tracking. Fun digital badges upon courses completed give teachers immediate takeaways to use in the classroom. Schedule a call with MobileMind or request a demo to differentiate the PD that your teachers want and need.