We all know ongoing professional development is the key to effective teaching and career longevity – but who’s got the time? Here’s how to keep growing while you teach, minus the overwhelm.
As an educator, you’ve probably had to learn a whole new set of professional skills you never anticipated thanks to the pandemic. Love them or hate them, online classrooms and e-learning platforms are here to stay, which means the way we teach and learn is likely to continue to evolve intensively for the foreseeable future as the global demand for effective education technology expands.
“The role of teachers is rapidly evolving, becoming in many ways more difficult than when learning took place only in person,”* say education experts in a 2020 global survey report for the World Bank. “Teachers need to adapt their practices and be creative to keep students engaged, as every household has become a classroom – more often than not – without an environment that supports learning.”
Perhaps your country’s government has allocated funds for training in this brave new teaching world, however, in many cases, with economies ravaged by the pandemic, education budgets are unlikely to be a high priority, meaning teachers and schools will have to take it upon themselves to find new ways to engage and educate students.
Bottom line? Your confidence in your classroom (online or otherwise) and career longevity rely on your own ability to adapt and learn. For snowed-under educators, this can be a daunting prospect, but it’s not as arduous as it sounds.
While you may be entitled to study leave, chances are it might not be enough to cover whichever continuing professional development (CPD) material you’d like to study, which means a little creative time management is called for.
Fittingly, the very technology teachers have had to embrace – digital learning – also holds the solution to easier professional development. E-learning courses can be completed up to 60% faster than in-person classes, according to a study by research agency Brandon Hall, and e-learning participants can learn nearly five times more material without increasing time spent in training*, say experts at Shift eLearning. Here are three things to look for in an e-learning education platform that will save you precious time:
1. You can complete your e-course training in your own time
This takes the pressure off and gives you the flexibility you need to tailor your learning to your schedule. As a rule of thumb, it should be self-paced, vs scheduled, ideally over the span of a year. This means you can stop, start, and resume, as well as complete the modules, more or less whenever you choose for the duration of the course.
2. Your course can be tailored to your individual needs
It’s important that your e-learning partner is willing to consult with you and your school to create or recommend a course that suits your individual needs and preferences. Gone are the days of ‘one-size-fits-all’. This is the beauty of online learning: where modules can be mixed and matched to create a bespoke formula, reducing time wasted on material that is not relevant to you.
3. Access to peer interaction
While this may not, on the surface, seem like a time-saver, it can prove a strong motivator to avoid procrastination. Engaging with other teachers who are ‘in it’ with you, means you’re more likely to receive support and advice, make connections and widen your professional network, participate and complete the material. The key word is ‘access’, though, not forced or scheduled interaction, which can be a time and energy drain and not always conducive to effective time management.