How Teachers Can Pursue Professional Development While Social Distancing

How Teachers Can Pursue Professional Development While Social Distancing

The current health crisis has spared no one. Almost all lives have been disrupted ⁠and essential sectors, especially education, are facing extremely uncertain times. While temporary solutions like distance learning have helped students continue their education, educators fear that continuing this pedagogical approach for the rest of the school year will create inequalities in student learning.

But as we’ve mentioned, education in the US is still in a state of limbo. Because of this, Mount Holyoke College Professor Megan Allen notes that teachers should prepare themselves for what’s to come by focusing on professional development. This ranges from advancing their educational attainment to updating their teaching skills.

In this post, we’ve listed some of the best ways educators can develop their professional careers even when social distancing.

  • Attend Virtual Learning Conferences

As current directives still discourage mass gatherings, many conferences and events have decided to go virtual. Despite seeming like they’re less engaging, virtual events are using current technologies to make involvement a key part of the program. From polls to question-and-answer portions, virtual conferences now put considerable emphasis on engagement.

What’s great about some of these events is that they can provide teachers with professional development points (PDPs), or a certificate that they can add to their resume. There’s a broad range of topics that virtual conferences tackle, from how to become a better virtual teacher to planning courses during anxious times like these. So, keep your eyes peeled for different online events like the 36th annual Distance Teaching and Learning Conference, which aims to provide teachers with evidence-based practice and educational innovations to succeed in distance education and online learning.

  • Obtain Ed-Tech Certifications

As online learning becomes the primary teaching approach ⁠— at least for the foreseeable future ⁠— educators should be well equipped to take on the challenges of this new innovation. This is why it’s important for them to master ed-tech tools and even gain certifications to assist and train other teachers. Thankfully, a lot of resources are available to help teachers. Microsoft and Apple both offer programs that can provide educators the technological competency to facilitate virtual classes.

Teachers also need to do their homework and familiarize themselves with ed-tech tools. One key area teachers will do well to master are screencasting and video conferencing tools. For the former, a rundown of screencasting tools on HP highlights useful programs like Screencast-O-Matic and Screencastify, both of which can be easily integrated into existing classroom management apps like Google Classroom. For the latter, meanwhile, apps like Google Hangouts and Zoom provide a user-friendly and uninterrupted service ⁠— perfect for virtual classes. Together, these can give educators a head start on distance learning activities.

  • Advance Your Career Through Writing and Research

Another way to get PDPs is to get published. If you’re taking higher education that’s relevant to your teaching or your academic discipline, you’ll have to create an academic paper. Other than providing valuable insight, a successfully published academic paper sometimes merits PDPs from the state. So, don’t be afraid to submit your academic paper to different journals and publications.

But if you prefer to write on the more casual side, a lot of online publications that focus on education are constantly looking for educators who can write about their experiences and share their learnings. During this time when distance learning is offered as a novel solution, the input of educators who have first-hand experience teaching in the middle of a crisis is very much appreciated. If you don’t know how to get yourself published, a Mission article on Medium advises tracking down your target publication’s editor on LinkedIn or Twitter. From there, you can send them a professional message asking about contributor spots or if you can pitch them your topics.

As educators, we have to be ready to tread uncharted waters. The concept of what’s normal is truly changing and face-to-face teaching doesn’t seem like it’s coming back anytime soon. So, pursuing professional development during these times is crucial, especially if you’re looking to participate in future events like interschool model UNs or educational programs like the annual Teach A Man To Fish event.

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