By: Jorge Estrella
Education at all levels is experiencing a substantial shift. By the next school year, we can expect schools reopening as we see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, many schools might not be ready yet to welcome students and staff back to a “new” normal. There are several elements that remain uncertain, from how to organize the school to rethink the educational program approach. All these decisions will have a direct impact on teaching and learning, assessments, parental involvement, overall school logistics and norms. These decisions will also require adapting to new instructional practices, and professional development.
We, at the Fordham PDRC, asked ourselves: How can we best serve teachers and administrators in this ‘new’ school environment? What model will best promote a high level of educators’ engagement?
On-Demand learning offers flexibility, easy access, options, control of the study time, a comfortable learning environment, savings, and empowers educators to learn at their own pace among other benefits.
Teachers, by nature, are lifelong learners; they are committed to engaging in professional learning opportunities to enhance their teaching practice and stay updated with new trends in education. Hence, when the COVID-19 crisis provoked an abrupt shift in how teachers engaged with students from in-person to virtual instruction, they embraced live webinars sessions aimed at giving them the skills and confidence continue offering quality instruction to their students.
The Fordham PDRC launched its program in April 2020 with great success. These sessions covered all content areas, including trauma-informed instruction and social-emotional learning. Educators welcomed these quality and timely webinars, and we had a very high level of response during the first few months. However, as the months passed by, the correlation between registrations and attendance showed a slight decline. Informal conversations with educators revealed that teachers had a genuine interest in attending the different sessions offered. They registered but, in some cases, were unable to participate.
The reasons were, “I had an unexpected meeting with a parent”; “My school changed from virtual to in-person”; “My COVID immunization was scheduled at that time”; “I was in front of the screen for seven hours, physically drained”; “We had an emergency faculty conference”; “I had a family emergency.” All those were valid reasons that prevented educators from participating in some of the sessions offered by the NYS/NYC Fordham PDRC.
As addressed by the World Health Organization Pandemic, fatigue is an expected and natural response to a prolonged public health crisis and another factor that creates challenges to educators in participating in live professional learning sessions.
This is what motivated the Fordham PDRC to further explore the possibilities of on-demand learning and has designed a hybrid Summer Program that includes the flexibility of on-demand learning as well as the participatory engagement of Live Webinars.
The On-Demand professional learning option, available from July 1st to August 31st will offer educators a chance to take a brief pause during their summer activities while keeping learning at their own pace. Educators who meet the requirements for each session will have the opportunity to apply for Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) credits.
Please check the View the PDRC Summer box in the Upcoming Events section of the newsletter for details.