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3 Inspired Approaches to Teacher Professional Development

How innovative professional development is helping teachers use technology effectively and tackle Common Core State Standards

Amy Wilson | April 2, 2014

In January 2014, Common Sense Media set out to identify and shine a spotlight on exemplary districts and schools delivering innovative professional development for teachers tasked with integrating technology and making the transition to Common Core State Standards. In our 2013 online survey administered by Harris Interactive to more than 900 educators, we found that 90% of teachers say they would like to use more edtech in the classroom than they do now. We also found that 43% of them cite a lack of training for teachers on how to use and implement technology as one of the biggest challenges to integrating edtech in schools.

And now that Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts and Math require a shift in student learning toward critical thinking and problem-solving, teachers are required to shift instructional design.

The educators we polled in 2013 believe that technology can help improve student learning: 87% of educators agreed educational technology helps students collaborate, 89% agreed it improves student outcomes, and 96% agreed it increases student engagement.

But how do teachers learn to use technology effectively?

The districts and schools profiled in this report serve as a model for those looking for new ways to design and deliver professional development that improves teacher performance and, ultimately, student outcomes.

Key Takeaways

Professional development is best when it:

  • Is hands-on
  • Is teacher-led and team-based
  • Solves real instructional challenges
  • Encourages ongoing, embedded peer-to-peer coaching
  • Builds professional trust
  • Provides time for technology experimentation with guidance from peer experts

Download the free report to find out how Quakertown School District in Pennsylvania, Farmington High School in Connecticut, and West Pender Middle School in North Carolina are taking novel approaches to teacher professional development and encouraging a culture of inquiry and trust among colleagues. These mini case studies demonstrate that educators can improve their teaching when professional development is led by peers, embraces technology, and seeks to deepen exploration, critical thinking, and self-directed learning for the adults at school as much as for the students.

Download the white paper for free: Innovative Professional Development Helps Teachers Use Technology to Tackle CCSS.