9 min read
6 Engaging Job-Embedded Professional Development Learning Activities for Teachers
By: Damon Torgerson on Jun 8, 2022 11:00:00 PM
“It is greater work to educate a child, in the true and larger sense of the world, than to rule a state.” ~ William Ellery Channing
Professional learning for teachers is essential because it ensures that teachers are always learning and given the opportunity to stay abreast of new developments that can help them engage their students. Traditional professional development has its place but increasingly, school districts are exploring a combination of online PD and job-embedded professional development to support teachers.
At Alludo, we work with school districts across the country to ensure that they provide teachers with robust, learner-driven PD. Our online platform can be used in conjunction with job-embedded PD. Here are six engaging job-embedded PD activities to try.
Table of Contents
- What is Job-Embedded Professional Development
- Why is Job-Embedded Learning Important
- 6 Examples of Job-Embedded Learning Activities
- Analyzing and Reflecting on Student Work
- Real-Time Instructional Coaching or Mentoring
- Conferencing with a Mentor Before and After a Lesson
- Reviewing Case Discussions with Peers
- Demonstration Lessons for Teachers to Attend and Discuss
- Engagement with an Online Learning Community During a Planning Period
- Alludo's Take
- Incorporate Job-Embedded PD Learning Activities in Your District
What is Job-Embedded Professional Development
Professional development for teachers may take place in person or online, but when and how should it take place on the job?
Job-embedded professional development for teachers is something that happens in school and in the classroom. To be effective, it should connect to the pressing and real-life problems that teachers and educational leadership face at school every day.
By making PD part of teachers’ jobs, the possibility exists for the immediate application of what teachers learn. It fosters an environment where experimentation is encouraged and teachers feel free to adopt and adapt what they’ve learned to suit what’s happening in the classroom.
There are four essential conditions that must exist to make job-embedded PD for teachers effective:
- Learning goals should be realistic and relevant. Any system of teacher professional development should include realistic and relevant goals. Teachers must be able to meet goals in a reasonable time frame. At the same time, any goals must be linked directly to teachers’ work with students.
- Teachers should trust the process & receive constructive feedback. If teachers feel that they are being criticized in a way that’s not constructive, or they don’t trust the process of job-embedded PD, they are likely to be resistant and will not succeed in meeting their goals. Whatever system a school district uses to evaluate teachers on the job, it must be something teachers trust, such as peer coaching or videotape analysis. They must also trust that any feedback they receive will be constructive and designed to help them better connect with their students.
- Sufficient resources should be available to teachers. Schools and school districts must provide enough funding to give teachers the resources they need for job-embedded learning. There may be a need for outside observation as well as written and/or recorded materials. All these should be provided.
- School leaders must set aside time during the day for teachers to learn. It’s the job of administrators to ensure that teachers and staff have the time they need for professional learning. Since traditional PD typically happens offsite or – in the case of Alludo’s platform – online, it’s essential to build room into teachers’ daily schedules to allow them to participate fully in job-embedded learning.
When job-embedded professional development meets these criteria, it has the best possible chance of providing teachers and students with what they need.
Why is Job-Embedded Learning Important?
Both traditional professional development and online asynchronous PD have a place, but job-embedded learning can serve as a practical form of teacher education that offers school districts the opportunity to support teachers, reduce turnover, and drive student achievement – all at the same time. Here are some of the reasons that we believe job-embedded learning for teachers is essential.
It Provides Teachers With Greater Access to Learning Opportunities
The best teachers know that education is a lifelong journey. Professional development of any kind is important to teachers, but job-embedded learning differs from traditional PD in that it provides teachers with a chance to learn where they do their work: in the classroom.
Said another way, job-embedded PD takes teacher learning from the abstract to the concrete. Teachers have the opportunity to learn relevant skills from instructors and one another and put them to immediate use with their students.
One of the best things about job-embedded PD is that it respects teachers’ time. Teachers may struggle to fit traditional PD into their schedules, but when school administrators make room for on-the-job learning, teachers can learn without taking time away from their families and private lives to do so.
It Results in Higher Levels of Self-Efficacy
Another key benefit of job-embedded professional development for teachers is that it results in higher levels of self-efficacy. As teachers learn new skills, they start on a path of continuous improvement and professional growth. They gain confidence in their abilities and learn to trust that they can take what they learn and use it for the benefit of their students.
Teacher job satisfaction is likely to be high when teachers feel empowered and capable. Job-embedded training that encompasses constructive feedback and ongoing support is one way to reduce teacher stress and burnout and decrease turnover. Considering the ongoing educator shortage and the expense of hiring new teachers, every school district should embrace the idea of job-embedded PD.
It Positively Impacts Student Learning
Ask any teacher why they started teaching and the chances are excellent that helping students will be the first thing they mention. Teachers are most likely to participate enthusiastically in professional learning when it is clear to them that what they learn will benefit their students.
Job-embedded PD makes it easy for teachers to see the impact of what they learn on their students. Because they have the opportunity to put what they learn into their teacher practice immediately, they get the benefit of seeing the results of PD without waiting. In other words, it inspires them to learn more and keeps them feeling enthusiastic about their work.
6 Examples of Job-Embedded Learning Activities
For job-embedded professional development to be effective, it must be engaging and relevant. Here are six examples of job-embedded learning activities to try in your district.
#1: Analyzing and Reflecting on Student Work
Since positive student outcomes are a priority for all teachers, it stands to reason that starting with outcomes and working backwards would be effective. Our first example of job-embedded PD is to examine, analyze, and reflect on student work.
Teachers should select work, sharing the assignment or rubric and the context in which the assignment is given. Other teachers review the work, ask questions, and then offer feedback and ideas on how the assignment might be fine-tuned to improve student outcomes.
#2: Real-Time Instructional Coaching or Mentoring
Coaching or mentoring may happen outside of the classroom, but one job-embedded option is to put coaches or mentors in the classroom with teachers, so they can observe them and provide immediate constructive feedback.
Coaching and mentoring are most effective when used as part of the induction process for new teachers in a district. Ideally, teachers should be partnered with educators who teach the same subjects, allowing them to share common planning time. Mutual observation may be helpful for teachers at all levels of experience.
#3: Conferencing with a Mentor Before and After a Lesson
In addition to real-time classroom coaching, school-embedded PD may also include pre- and post-lesson conferencing to provide teachers with observations and feedback. Mentors may come from within a school or operate on a district level, traveling to work with teachers as needed.
Giving teachers time to process what their mentors tell them and following up with additional classroom observation is useful because it ensures that teachers use what they learn and ultimately, leads to better learning outcomes for their students.
#4: Reviewing Case Discussions with Peers
Case discussions provide teachers with an opportunity to apply critical thinking to their experiences in the classroom. Formats for a case review may include everything from written analysis to video or multimedia presentations.
Some examples of angles to use in case discussions include examinations of student thinking, instruction decisions, or even missed opportunities in the classroom. The conversations should be peer-led and constructive, providing teachers with an array of options to improve student results.
#5: Demonstration Lessons for Teachers to Attend and Discuss
There’s undeniably a benefit to observing teachers in the classroom and one way to turn teachers into observers and learners is to stage demonstration lessons, also known as research lessons.
Teachers take turns preparing lessons to address a learning goal, and the other teachers in the group observe the lesson and document what they see. After the lesson is complete, all participants meet to discuss what they saw and make suggestions to improve the lesson. In some cases, the lesson may be revised based on the group’s observations and presented again.
#6: Engagement with an Online Learning Community During a Planning Period
Online learning allows teachers to complete professional development at their convenience. One way to put online PD to work in a practical setting is to have teachers collaborate in professional learning communities.
Teachers can meet to analyze their instructional practice of new teaching strategies, test them in their classrooms, and share results to get feedback and support. Participating in an online professional learning community creates shared responsibility for students and decreases teachers’ feelings of stress and isolation.
At Alludo, we specialized in creating a dynamic online learning environment that is tailored to the needs of teachers and school districts. Our professional development content can easily be used in job-embedded professional learning to support teachers and improve student outcomes:
- Our vast catalog supports the creation of personalized learning pathways that can be pursued both online and with job-embedded training.
- Our microlearning courses have been carefully curated by top educators to ensure that school districts and teachers have the content they need to keep teachers engaged and improve student outcomes.
- Our available content includes courses related to curriculum design, classroom management, teaching techniques, Social Emotional Learning, and more.
Our new Message Boards feature is ideal for building professional learning communities where teachers can compare notes, analyze their work, and build camaraderie and peer support.
Incorporate Job-Embedded PD Learning Activities in Your District
Job-embedded professional development learning activities are one of the best ways we know to ensure that PD is relevant to the important work that teachers do in their classrooms every day. When incorporated into your district’s professional development program, job-embedded PD can increase teacher satisfaction, decrease burnout and turnover, and most importantly, lead to the best possible outcomes for 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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One child, one teacher, one book and one pen, can change the world. ~ Malala Yousafzi
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