Professional development is most effective when the participants take an active role in the learning experience. The teachers are then empowered to extend the learned concepts to their classrooms. Participants use problem-solving skills to understand and use the new strategies and then learn how to effectively integrate them into the curriculum. Technology plays a role in enhancing the curricular topics. It is a focus with respect to how it can be used meaningfully to transform the classroom and student learning. The idea is to first cultivate a 21st century classroom of instructional techniques in order to support the 21st century technology tools. The curriculum and instruction will always play the lead, while the technology plays the supporting role.
Workshops are primarily inquiry-based and focus on meaningful integration. Working in teams, the participants have the opportunity to network with others. Conducted at district facilities, all workshops are hands-on in an interactive format – not presentation style. Quality digital hand outs are also provided. Participants are modeled the new strategies in order to be self-sufficient once the workshop is over. The workshops are designed to be make-and-take sessions in order for the participants to develop finished products or works in progress for integration into their curriculum.
As follow up to the workshops and to avoid "drive by" trainings, coaching and mentoring is the most effective way for teachers to successfully and confidently implement the new strategies. Scaffolding allows for teachers to have the on-going support they need - one-on-one or in small groups to plan together as well as within the classroom for guidance with implementation.
The best teachers are risk-takers. A relationship is developed between the teacher and coach to ensure trust and a collaborative environment to foster the risk-taker in every teacher.
The ultimate goal is to engage the learner. Students learn best through autonomy and active engagement. Each professional development session's central focus is on the students and how to best achieve their very best.
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