Professional Learning: The Heart of Transformation


Over the past five months, I’ve had the privilege of working with approximately 500 school leadership teams - about 2,000 school district administrators, on their district’s digital conversion. Each district brings with it a unique set of challenges and circumstances. As witnessed when working with these school leaders, and from observable educational technology trends nationwide, there’s a current crisis as it relates to the implementation of digital technologies and ultimately a digital conversion.In today’s system, many districts often buy all the stuff, put the tools in carts and in hallways, expect teachers to use it, and then hope for an increase in student achievement. With such practice, incredible 21st century tools are often underutilized and stuck in 20th century learning environments. Purchasing the devices is the easy part. Transforming instructional pedagogy and educator mindsets is the challenge.For years, the top-down, one-size-fits-all, sit and get approach to professional learning reigned paramount. Teachers would do their time to rack up the needed hours for professional learning. Over time, however, school district leaders have realized that such a model is ineffective and teachers need a personalized approach of dynamic professional learning opportunities. Well known speaker and educational technology expert, Richard Byrne shares that,

"Great professional development in educational technology offers practical advice to busy teachers while at the same time inspiring them to try new things. My goal in every professional development workshop I lead is to help teachers overcome immediate challenges while showing them what they can do in the future." 

Simply buying technology and putting it in classrooms will yield minimal results. However, with proper training and high quality professional learning, the digital conversion process can begin!  When implementing a 1:1 environment, professional learning enables transformed instructional practice, and as such, opportunities for students become limitless. With the summer months upon us, professional learning opportunities are right around the corner. Now is the time to do it right!According to a recent GfK study commissioned by Samsung Business surveying over 1,000 teachers, more than 90% of teachers feel access to up-to-date training on how to use technology in the classroom is critical to achieving success in the classroom. In addition, 60% indicate that they would like to better integrate technology, but need more training. These statistics verify the trends I’ve personally seen nationwide working with a large number of school leaders. Simply put, high quality professional learning will make or break your district’s digital conversion.In working with various partners, it’s imperative that school districts choose companies that understand this need for dynamic professional learning - companies that aren’t just simply looking at sales. Just this week, Samsung announced a new professional development initiative aimed ensuring schools deploying its technology also have access to dedicated and ongoing training on its effective use in the classroom. In my interactions with the Samsung education team, it’s clear they understand the challenges teachers and districts face in this difficult digital conversion. Their Samsung Educator Academy (certification for teachers and instructional technologists) and the Samsung Educator Community (online best-practice sharing) are a genuine effort to support districts as part of their professional learning opportunities.For those educators attending ISTE in Philadelphia next week, Samsung will be hosting a session entitled, Redefining Professional Development for the Curriculum of the Future on Monday, June 29th, from 2:30-3:30pm EST.  I’d encourage all district leaders to check out this learning opportunity from some nationally known educational technology leaders such as Richard Byrne.  It’s sure to be worth your time and will support your thought process around professional development moving forward! 

“Disclosure of Material Connection: This post is sponsored by Samsung Business. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”