Teaching is more than imparting knowledge; it is inspiring change. Learning is more than absorbing facts; it is acquiring understanding. ~ William Arthur Ward
The cost of professional development is a concern for most school districts in the United States. It’s common for superintendents, administrators, and educational services leaders to be required to pull money from several budgeting buckets to find the resources they need. Fortunately, there are models available that are both affordable and effective.
At Alludo, we create asynchronous learning environments that teachers can access online and at their convenience. Unlike synchronous learning, we believe that asynchronous instruction offers teachers the most flexibility in how they complete their PD requirements. And, we believe that teacher PD should be accessible, flexible, and learner-driven to give school districts the best chance of meeting their goals.
Table of Contents
- Why Is It Important Not to Overspend on Professional Development?
- What Are the Hidden Costs of Traditional PD for Teachers?
- Ways to Optimize the Cost of PD with Asynchronous Learning
- Alludo’s Take
Why Is It Important Not to Overspend on Professional Development?
When school districts aren’t mindful of the cost of professional development, they may end up overspending. While it is certainly essential to invest in PD and do everything possible to ensure that it’s useful to teachers while helping districts meet their goals and improving student outcomes, it’s also a problem when overspending occurs. Here are three reasons why it’s essential not to overspend on professional development.
#1: School Districts Often Have Limited Resources
The first reason that it’s not a good idea to overspend on professional development is that most school districts can’t afford to do so. Resources are limited and most districts don’t have a dedicated PD bucket in their budget.
When districts are already stretched thin trying to pay teacher salaries and buy supplies, overspending on PD can put them in a difficult position financially.
#2: Ineffective PD Can Hinder District Goals
It might seem counterintuitive, but some school districts that overspend on professional development aren’t necessarily spending on PD that’s going to help them achieve their district goals. In fact, the opposite may be true.
Paying too much for PD that isn’t effective is not going to help any district achieve its goals, whether their priority is to reduce teacher turnover or improve student test scores. Overpaying leaves less money for other things and can be a direct hindrance to meeting goals.
#3: The Best PD Is Not Necessarily Expensive
Professional development doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective. In fact, some of the most cost-effective forms of PD are the least expensive for school districts. Asynchronous online learning is an example.
Ultimately, whatever money your district spends on professional development should go toward PD that’s going to help you achieve your goals while also being enjoyable and useful for teachers and administrators.
What Are the Hidden Costs of Traditional PD for Teachers?
One of the things that can lead to overspending on professional development is the prevalence of hidden costs. Above and beyond the price tag that your district will carry to create a PD system, host seminars, and monitor teacher participation, there are costs that can impact your district on every level.
Low Teacher Engagement/Participation
Teacher professional development won’t be helpful to any district if teachers aren’t participating and engaged in what they’re learning. With traditional PD, teachers are often required to travel to attend classes and the inconvenience may keep participation low.
While low engagement won’t show up in your budget, you will end up paying for it one way or another. The cost may come in the form of administrative hours required to follow up with teachers and track their participation, or it may come in the form of less-than-desirable student outcomes.
Low Teacher Retention/High Turnover
There is an ongoing crisis of teacher turnover that has contributed to a growing teacher shortage in the United States. When teachers don’t get the support they need, including effective professional development, they are more likely to leave their jobs or – as we have seen in increasing numbers – leave the teaching profession entirely.
A 2021 report about teacher retention in Michigan found that the cost of hiring one new teacher could range from $10,000 to $20,000. That’s more than many school districts can afford to spend. We have found that $20,000 is an average for teacher turnover that covers advertising open positions, hiring, and training.
Teacher Time and Travel
Not all hidden costs of teacher professional development accrue to school districts. They accrue to teachers as well. One such cost is the expense associated with traveling to traditional PD classes and the time it takes to do so.
Teachers’ time is valuable. While their classroom hours may not add up to a traditional full-time job, those hours don’t include the time that teachers spend planning lessons, grading student assignments, and meeting their professional development requirements. Districts are more likely to get the results they want from professional development if teachers feel their time is valued.
When teachers don’t comply with state and district professional development requirements, it can cost school districts in both money and time. Since non-compliance can’t be ignored, the result is that administrators must follow up with teachers and get them to fulfill their obligations.
The key is developing a system that minimizes non-compliance and maximizes engagement. When it’s easy for teachers to comply with PD requirements, they’re more likely to do so – and you won’t need to worry about spending valuable time and resources on compliance.
Adverse Effects on Students
Finally – and most importantly to teachers and administrators – traditional PD can cost you by delivering less-than-optimal student outcomes. When teachers feel overworked and underappreciated, it’s going to be reflected during their time in the classroom.
Students will be engaged if their teachers are engaged. That’s not to say that students may not struggle at times, but any district that has a lackluster system of professional development that doesn’t give teachers a voice or value their time is likely to see teacher dissatisfaction reflected in student outcomes.
Ways to Optimize the Cost of PD with Asynchronous Learning
The bottom line is that while teacher professional development doesn’t need to be expensive, spending money on the wrong things can cost you even more in the long run. Your best bet is to embrace asynchronous online learning to optimize your results and get the best return on your investment. Here are three ways to do it.
#1: Ensure That PD Integrates with Existing Technology
During the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers around the United States scrambled to learn new technology that would enable them to stay connected to their students. In line with giving teachers a voice in their professional development, one way to keep them engaged and make the most of your PD is to ensure that any PD system you choose integrates with the technology your teachers are already using.
It also makes sense to focus on usability when you’re creating or buying a PD platform. You want to make sure that your teachers don’t need to spend valuable time trying to make sense of a confusing interface. For example, the Alludo platform is designed to be easy and intuitive to use, so teachers can dive in and start learning right away.
#2: Get Teacher Input & Feedback
A learner-centered platform that takes teachers’ needs into consideration and encourages them to provide feedback on an ongoing basis is ideal if you want to save money on PD while getting the best possible results.
Part of the reason that the Alludo platform is designed to be customizable is that we recognize that every district is unique. Allowing teachers to tell you what they need to better connect with students is the first step. Gathering data and feedback is just as essential because it will give you the information you need to adapt and update your professional learning environment to ensure that teachers’ needs are being met.
#3: Align PD with State and District Goals
Finally, you’ll get the most value from your asynchronous PD when the platform you use is aligned with state and district goals. Since every school district is different, it’s essential to find a platform that you can customize to meet your needs.
The best thing about customization is that when your goals change, you can easily update PD requirements to accommodate them – and, you can also stay up-to-date with what your teachers tell you they need.
To illustrate how Alludo’s platform can help you to optimize your PD with learner-centered asynchronous learning, let’s look at a case study from the Jurupa Unified School District.
The Jurupa USD came to us in search of a way to provide their teachers and staff members with support and training for distance learning, technology, classroom tools, pedagogy, and social emotional learning. We gave them a system that incorporated their needs using the following features:
- Affordable costs
- Built-in scalability
- Teacher-driven learning
The result was higher-than-ever engagement, with 2,000+ educators completing 109,000+ learning activities. We can do the same for you.
Optimize Your PD with Asynchronous Learning
It’s time to stop wasting your district’s limited resources on professional development that doesn’t engage teachers or deliver the results you need. With asynchronous learning, you can provide teachers and administrators with easy access to an engaging and relevant learning experience that they can put to work for the benefit of their students.
Want to reach up to 100% PD in your district? See how Alludo can help make it happen with our free professional development platform trial, including:
- Hundreds of core topics
- Asynchronous microlearning activities
- Timely and specific feedback
- Analytics that show learning impact
- Access anytime, anywhere
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