With online lectures from master teachers and social networks to help teachers connect online, we can help teachers improve their skills and enjoy the advice and emotional support of other teachers.
Most teachers and administrators acknowledge that today’s professional development tools for teachers are inadequate. Districts generally spend about 2% of their budgets on professional development, far less than other skills-centered professions. It can also be hard for teachers to find time between classes or after school to take conventional professional development courses. Those hours are already filled with grading tests, preparing lessons and writing report cards. The result? A majority of teachers report that traditional professional development courses have no impact on the quality of their teaching.
A teacher can always reach out to colleagues at his school, but they may not be able to help with questions on how to teach a specialized lesson, or deal with a student with an unusual learning problem.
New online tools are helping teachers find advice and develop their skills. Not only are these tools produced by master teachers, they are delivered in bite-sized pieces, so that teachers can work with them on their own time, at their own pace.
These online tools also help teachers connect with one another, get advice and share support. The fact is, only about one in three teachers works with a co-teacher or a teacher’s assistant. Most spend the bulk of their day alone with their students. For teachers, an online social network offers professional support they cannot always find in the teacher’s lounge.