We know how important it is for you to keep your instruction current through regular professional learning events, but how do you choose the right virtual professional learning event? How can you fund PD right now if your school doesn’t have the budget? Will a virtual event be as effective as in-person PD? Although we don’t have all the answers, we would like to share some great funding resources, some thoughts on the benefits of virtual PD, and two exciting online professional learning opportunities with two of our authors, Matthew R. Kay and Whitney La Rocca. Take a look!
Upcoming Professional Learning Opportunities
Wednesdays, February 3, 10, 17 & 24, 2021 • 6:30 – 7:45 p.m. ET
Learn how to make the classroom—whether it’s in-person, remote, or a blend of both—one of the best venues for students to discuss race. Developed by Matthew R. Kay based on the principles behind his book, Not Light, But Fire, this series of four 75-minute digital seminars is designed to give teachers and administrators a method and strategies for initiating and facilitating meaningful, productive, and respectful dialogues about race.
Watch this video of Matthew talking about the value of ongoing professional learning for teachers and get a sneak peek into what you can expect from his online PD.
Teaching grammar can be engaging and fun? Yes, it can! Instead of chanting grammar rules or completing countless conventions worksheets, we invite young writers to explore conventions as special-effects devices that activate meaning. In this four-part digital seminar series, Whitney La Rocca, co-author of the Patterns of Power family of resources, will show you how to create classrooms—whether in person or remote—where students are curious about language, engage with the world around them, and notice and experiment with the conventions all writers use.
Five Benefits of Virtual Professional Development
- No traveling equals huge savings. Virtual PD cuts out the added costs of travel, lodging, food, etc.
- Safe and less stressful. Not only do you have huge cost-savings with virtual PD, but also a lot less stress and you can do it from the safety of your own home.
- Flexibility to fit your schedule. Shorter sessions, varying time offerings, and on-demand sessions allows you to choose the PD that fits your schedule.
- No substitute needed. A lot of virtual PD options are happening after school hours, which means no need to take days off and make sub plans.
- Credit hours from your couch. What’s better than getting credit hours while sitting in the comfort of your own home?
Is Virtual Professional Development as Effective?
Statement on Virtual vs. In-Person Training from the author of Fair Isn't Always Equal, Second Edition, Rick Wormeli:
“I can’t wait to return to in-person professional development. It’s deeply meaningful and energizing in all aspects. There’s no doubt that being in the room physically together adds energy to the professional development experience, humans are like that. Guest speakers and their ideas are humanized for faculty members when they visit, their ideas no longer abstractions from far away, the possibilities for local application blossom, and faculty connect personally. And gosh, some speakers are just darn fun, leading crazy cheers, asking for volunteers for interesting demonstrations, singing parody songs related to education, and giving away nice prizes.
If done effectively, we can do all of these positives via virtual training as well, and with local facilitation, we can even do those crazy cheers and give away prizes, if that’s needed. Virtual trainings have definite advantages:
First, schools cut out the speaker’s travel expenses and with budgets already strained, this is a huge consideration.
Second, participants have direct access to the speaker. Auditorium keynotes, for example, can be antiseptic and frustrating, even when the guest speaker is physically present. In the virtual training experience, however, your own screen fills your visual focus, there are no distractions, and you control your own environment during the session.
In addition, a full day’s live session can be turned into two half days or four, 90-minute live sessions, spread across a month or two so as not create Zoom or PD fatigue. A two-day seminar can be turned into four half days, allowing the other half of each day to be used in discussion of the ideas or other professional duties.
There is simply less drain on the school funds, but a greater dexterity, and in most cases, more creative and focused experience for participants that comes with virtual professional development done well in short chunks, half-days, full-days, or multiple days.
Thank you for all you’re doing for educator development. I know it’s a tough time for everyone, but our students are worth our enterprise.” – Rick Wormeli
Click here for Rick’s full statement.
Three Ways to Fund Your Virtual Professional Development
- Write the right people. Here are two example letters you can use as a template to write your supervisor/colleagues or your community and ask for their assistance in your professional learning journey. (Be sure to update the letter to include the information on the event you'd like to attend.)
- Choose to be chosen. DonorsChoose is an organization dedicated to helping teachers request assistance for materials and experiences to help their students.
- Go social and crowdfund. There are many fundraising sites out there that you can access and post on your social media pages to ask for help from friends and family. Here are a few: GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Modest Needs, and PledgeCents.