Technology Enters the Classroom for Student Success

In an effort to maintain their district’s push toward digitization, ten Baltimore County public schools in Maryland have been chosen to pilot a program known as Lighthouse Schools, part of the Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow (STAT) initiative. These schools are segueing into technology-friendly classrooms by distributing digital learning devices to each student and ensuring learning standards are enriched with the most up-to-date technology. Beginning with ten schools, the program plans on reaching every classroom by providing training through teacher development programs to utilize technology to improve how and what students learn. Technology is often considered an equalizer in that it reaches students who would not normally engage in a learning activity. Studies have proven that when students are engaged, doors open and learning floods in.

With one teacher from each grade level present at the conference, attendees will be able to share ideas and collaborate with peers in their same grade level, thereby building camaraderie and confidence before the new information is presented to students district-wide. The conference allowed educators to choose the session they wished to attend; in turn, when they were comfortable with the material, they were able to share it by blogging to their peers who were not present.

Many of the ideas showcased in the sessions were used to stimulate multiple learning modalities to maintain student engagement. A video program as well as the audio program Audacity, which edits and records voices and sounds, were presented to enhance student reading skills. Reading fluency with the aid of technology and media was another topic presented to teachers. Educators were enthusiastic with the focus of technology in the classroom. Whitney Plunkett, a first-grade teacher, stated, “I have learned a lot about the different resources I can use in my classroom to engage my students.”

Baltimore County administrators expect to expand this program to all its schools in the coming years, giving teachers the ability to teach their students in methods more appropriate for the digital future.

What is your opinion on technology in teacher development programs? Do you believe it will create a more successful teacher development program? Let us know; we look forward to sharing ideas with you.

Keeping Teachers Engaged in Professional Development

One of the easiest ways to learn is through emulation and practice. In the past, it seemed professional development for teachers (PD) did not take this simple fact into consideration as most PD programs were canned and far from stimulating, and teachers were present only to tack another round of training onto their growing list of mandatory hours. Finally the fallacy in the PD plan was noted and more flexible programs dedicated to the individual needs of each participant were created.

New PD programs may now present information in a context as a simulation to a classroom setting to prepare educators for how a new idea can be integrated as a daily exercise. If that model is not possible for a given situation, the information presented may be based on experience from another educator who can act as a mentor when nuances of reality interfere with the plan’s original intent.

The more a professional development plan instigates participation, the easier it is to segue the program into the classroom. When teachers and administrators collaborate locally or nationwide, information is shared and the camaraderie strengthens the basic understanding of the topic. A creative PD program involves activities where the participants can work together and solve problems in a situation that could very likely occur in a classroom. When these activities involve imaginative ideas that can be practiced safely, teachers are prone to become comfortable with the action and add their own flair. These ideas are easily shared in a PD environment, so all participants are able to build on the skill sets of others. Once practiced and perfected, the ideas are more readily presented to students for their use, benefiting the entire classroom. For those instructors not prepared to adapt the newest PD concepts after the session ends, allowing quick access to follow-up materials, feedback from others who have mastered the skill, and reinforcement for utilizing the design may stimulate the transition.

The Electronic Registrar Online (ERO) system from eSchool Solutions gives district administrators the ability to provide professional development for teachers. Our flexible programs are available for a district-wide PD session or a personal online class. Learn more about ERO by visitingwww.eschoolsolutions.com. Share this post and tell us how you stay engaged during your districts PD programs.

Massachusetts Teachers Applaud New Professional Development Systems

The 2014 Massachusetts Teaching, Learning, and Leading (TELL) Survey results were recently announced. While every category–including time, facilities, and resources, community support and involvement, managing student conduct, teacher leadership, school leadership, professional development, and instructional practices and support–showed moderate gains, professional development scored lowest categorically. A few of the questions concerning the differentiation of professional development (PD) programs and the communication of results of a teacher development program, scored well below the 50% mark.

Fortunately, not all results were negative. While the PD question categories scored below the remainder of the questionnaire’s responses in many cases, it was evident perceptions are changing; in the two years between the most recent survey and its predecessor, responses climbed a few percentage points for the majority of answers.

One city in Massachusetts–Sudbury–noted distinct changes and great improvement in many areas. In fact, responses for the amount of time allocated to PD activities escalated sharply from 64% in 2012 to 84% this year. Their district administrators have emphasized the role of teacher development programs in education and have exerted much effort in ensuring teachers have more and better access to PD programs. To this end, Sudbury has hired lunchroom monitors to allow teachers more time to collaborate on student progress–only one change of many geared to generate more time for PD.

Technology was an altogether different picture, however. Many respondents in the Sudbury district stated their access to technology diminished when compared to the past survey. These numbers may have been caused by Internet failure rather than a lack of suitable PD programs. District administrators recognized the fallacy in the technology and are striving to increase the breadth and strength of their online programs.

If your school district is experiencing a lack of dependable and advanced technology, turn to eSchool Solutions. Our innovative teacher development program ranks as one of the most comprehensive available. Feel free to request a demo at www.eschoolsolutions.com. We look forward to assisting your district in your PD needs.

Share this post and comment on your school’s available PD programs. Based on the TELL Survey, do you think anything will be done in your district?

Achieve Alignment, Focus, and Clarity With eSchool’s ERO

The focus of your district’s professional development (PD) program should be to provide for the needs of your educators. However, many plans fall apart because the varied tools required to carry out the program do not easily coordinate. By utilizing one system that neatly ties online systems together for ease of use and resources, eSchool Solution’s Electronic Registrar Online (ERO) captures the capabilities of well-known and proven learning platforms and places the contents at your fingertips.

Teaching requirements are unique for each school district, and our ERO meets those individual needs by adding resources to assist your district administrators in building the most up-to-the-minute PD program for your busy educators. Recent data suggest that many new educators believe they were under-prepared as new teachers. With ERO, your district can build a comprehensive new-hire program to allow a fluid segue for first-time teachers, or to transfer from one school or district to another. Likewise, the beginning of every school year brings new positions to many educators as they change from one grade level to another, or pursue a new career path as a middle school science teacher after ten years of teaching math. Meet the needs of these professionals with the support of eSchool Solutions’ ERO, where our resources will bolster their successful careers from the first day of school to their last day in the classroom.

When teachers are given straightforward ideas of the goals for their classrooms, schools, and districts, they are more thoroughly prepared to meet those goals. ERO can align our burgeoning collection of resources to allow district administrators to precisely choose material and create a focused PD program. You can also generate individual PD programs for every educator in your district with ERO. With the power of BlackBoard and the resources of multiple online learning platforms, crafting a one-hour tutorial or a one-week seminar is easy, and the PD hours are managed via ERO as well. In fact, with our array of resources, you truly can focus on your main objective: educating your educators.

Learn more about eSchool Solutions’ Electronic Registrar Online by visiting our website at www.eschoolsolutions.com. Share this post and give us your opinion of your district’s professional development program. Let us know the areas of improvement you’ve identified and we’ll let you know how to address them.

What’s New With eSchool’s ERO?

At eSchool Solutions, we take pride in offering our educators the very latest in online technology. To that end, we have recently unveiled several advanced, user-friendly upgrades to our Electronic Registrar Online (ERO) system to improve its functionality. Version 5.5 is our newest update; it is better equipped to deliver the latest professional development (PD) systems that offer resources for you to build the ultimate personal PD program for the educators in your district or school.

Using the power of proven online platforms, ERO has integrated technologies with three additional learning systems: Schoology, Moodle, and Desire2Learn (D2L). These recognized repositories increase the depth and breadth of online learning tools, giving teaching professionals more high-quality choices for their PD course materials. Along with a plethora of resources, this newest integration also allows automatic management of all your professional development needs, including tracking and awarding credit, registration to myriad PD courses, delivery of course material, and approval from your local school system. Because the learning platforms are all accessed through eSchool Solution’s ERO system, only one username and password are needed to open a world of learning opportunities. With a fully integrated system, the hours dedicated to a course in Schoology will transfer to ERO’s system along with the hours from a D2L class–no cumbersome tracking by the end user.

For the PD district development teams, the easy accessibility of eSchool’s ERO presents coordinators with the ability to choose a multitude of courses and create an overall PD program that meets the individual needs of districts, schools, and teachers. District administrators are also able to award PD points to educators who participate in online courses via ERO.

Visit our upgraded Electronic Registrar Online system today at www.eschoolsolutions.com to learn how eSchool Solutions can bring the latest in learning and professional development to you. Share this post and join the conversation regarding the importance of PD programs in the education sector.

Turnaround Arts Program Promotes Arts Education

The human brain is a compact series of billions of neurons that fire impulses to tell your body what to do. The connections between the neurons can be strengthened by two methods: the first is practice and the second is creating similar pathways that run parallel to the original path until they intersect. This is where arts suddenly enhance learning. By learning choreography, rhythm enhances math skills. Singing is a fantastic language in itself, and the art increases knowledge in both written and spoken language.

The Turnaround Arts Program, which is part of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, recognizes the strong ties between arts and education. Two years ago, nine below-average schools joined the program in an effort to provide enriching arts programs to their students. Michelle Obama touted The Turnaround Arts Program recently at the inaugural White House talent show, which featured many students from the “turnaround” schools. The show, much like the program, was a roaring success. With public and private funding of $5 million generated by national celebrities, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Department of Education, The Turnaround Arts Program will expand from its initial eight schools to 35 schools nationwide.

“The Turnaround Arts Program has exceeded not just our expectations, but our wildest hopes and dreams,” effused the First Lady. Across the board, standardized reading test scores improved, attendance rates climbed, and disciplinary actions decreased. Proficiency scores in math and reading also increased, reinforcing a strong correlation between the arts and a positive learning environment in the eight schools selected for the program. “The arts have a pretty dramatic and immediate impact,” reports Rachel Goslins, Executive Director of the Committee of Arts and Humanities, an advisory committee on cultural policy. With greater school participation, our nation’s struggling schools may be able to succeed, thanks to ideas such as The Turnaround Arts Program.

eSchool Solutions understands the necessity of an integrated learning system for both teachers and students. Share this post to show your support of programs like The Turnaround Arts Program. Let us know what you think of this program and others like it!

Personalized Learning for Teachers?

For decades teachers have worked closely with administrators, parents, and other professionals to create individualized learning plans (IEPs) for many of their students. While students with disabilities are traditionally those with IEPs, impressive educators also ensure every lesson plan meets the needs of all their students. This personalized learning assures the majority of students–if not all–can more readily comprehend the information presented.  Results of these personalized lesson plans prove that teaching to the learning styles and abilities of the students within a classroom raises overall test scores and creates a more fluid learning path.

Recently, many experts have realized a personalized learning plan for teachers may bring forth similar results for our educators. Rather than canned, one-size-fits-all professional development for teachers presented to a roomful of adults, regardless of learning styles or teaching styles, a personalized learning plan will address an educator’s strengths and work through any obstacles that may block a teacher from presenting new information to his or her students. Also, personalized programs will focus on district- or even school-specific training. Studies have proven that principals who collaborate with teachers to design the ultimate personalized professional development plans head the best performing schools.

Professional development programs have begun to incorporate technology into training, showing educators the most direct route to receive updates and even “attend” seminars online.  Many professional development programs boast the ability to construct programs specific to the end user, keeping the local district and school in mind as the PD program is crafted. Technology has also transferred the focus of training from a brick-and-mortar building to a more streamlined, personalized program that reaches those teachers in rural areas who would otherwise not be able to attend an in-person class.

Find the most innovative professional development for teachers at www.eschoolsolutions.com with eSchool Solutions’ development system. Your district will be able to customize our PD programs to suit the needs of you and your staff. Share this post and leave us comments discussing your thoughts on PD programs.

President Obama Calls for Stronger Teacher Preparation Programs

When entering a traditional profession, a training period with a mentor or supervisor generally eases a new employee into the workforce. Teaching is another story, and for many teachers, the rocky beginning leads to an unhappy ending. In fact, close to 2/3 of all new teachers surveyed report they were not enrolled in an adequate teacher development program before entering the classroom, and only half the teachers who graduated with high expectations will still be in the classroom three years after graduation. While their education was far from lacking, the missing chapter in the story of their training was lack of real preparation within a classroom setting, often known as a “teaching practicum.” Giving student teachers the ability to join a master teacher and teach for a lengthy stretch of time better prepares future educators. Arizona State University and Urban Teacher Residencies have noted an 85% retention rate of teachers after three years through their program of matching student teachers with educators recognized for their teaching skills. These new teachers have discovered that explaining the significance of the first day of school is far different than witnessing and participating in the first day of school.

To this end, President Obama has granted the Department of Education a set of guidelines to strengthen teacher development programs as well as professional preparedness programs. The new guidelines will hold teacher development programs accountable for the success of their teachers. Five states, including Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee, have reported their requirements and student success rates to the general public, teaching institutions, and potential employers. The program’s guidelines also include streamlining teacher evaluations and identifying the institutions whose teacher preparation programs are either in dire need of upgrading or are significantly better than average.

Lastly, the funding of teacher development programs through TEACH grants, which are given to student teachers who plan on entering the workforce in a high-need field within a low-income school or district, gives federal money directly to the source rather than to the overall teaching institution. By stretching federal dollars, more individuals will be eligible for these TEACH grants.

Do you believe these new developments will enhance the teaching experience and increase retention rates for first-time educators? What other areas of first-time teaching need to be addressed? We look forward to hearing your comments! Please let us know if you are a teacher, and, if so, how long you have been teaching.

Chicago Teachers Receive Professional Development Grants

Recognition for above average teaching skills positively impacts further performance. Recently, the Plainfield Foundation for Excellence–a Chicago-based non-profit group dedicated to promoting student excellence and achievement for learners of all abilities, encouraging innovation in the classroom, and enhancing collaboration–recognized eleven teachers for their positive impact on students. Last month they presented Professional Development Awards, valued at $500 apiece, to these educators in Chicago’s Plainfield School District 202. The awards are granted to teachers in appreciation for their dedication, as an initiative to continually improve learning within classrooms, and to promote the importance of professional development for teachers.

The Professional Development Awards were distributed on April 17, 2014, in conjunction with the Plainfield Foundation for Excellence’s 30th anniversary. Educators are able to use the monetary awards in any number of ways to further their own education and that of their students, such as enrolling in online courses focused on teaching students across the autism spectrum, attending summer science programs in Colorado to learn how to teach science in a comprehensive “hands-on” format, traveling to a local conference to learn how art and music can be fluidly incorporated into the common core curriculum, and attending other seminars on professional development for teachers either locally or out of state. Monies can be utilized to cover tuition, travel expenses, classroom supplies, or any other expenses directly related to enhancing student learning.

Plainfield School District 202 is not alone in generating scholarships, grants, and special funding to teaching professionals in an effort to enrich learning experiences for students. Does your school district offer similar initiatives? What are your views on district awards? Do you think they are a good idea? Why or why not? We would love to read your points of view! Feel free to post your input and ideas below, and visit eSchool Solutions’ website to learn more about professional development for teachers to meet the needs of your school district.

From Policymaker to Professor: Choosing the Best Plans for Students

The diligence of legislators in enacting sweeping bills to “repair” our nation’s public schools is evidenced in legislation currently tying the hands of educators nationwide: the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.  While this bill promises grand results and wonderful ideals, it suffers a fatal flaw; namely, no educators were in on the Act–and certainly no talk of professional development for teachers.  Unfortunately for NCLB, theory and practice were so far off track they were not even in the same train station.

When teachers hauled NCLB into the classroom, legislators anticipated rising academic scores across the board.  Instead, in a scramble to meet numbers, educators pinned their hopes on the children most likely to quickly progress, leaving children on the extreme ends of the bell curve – to put it bluntly – behind.  Teachers noted the fallacy of the policy and wondered why educators were not included at the onset of NCLB’s legislation.  With an astonishing 73% of teachers willing and enthusiastic about hybridizing their roles to become part-time teachers and part-time policymakers, it is sensible to include educators to shape upcoming legislation and to voice local concerns on how legislation will impact their districts.

With this in mind, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York upheld the Teachers at the Table Act, giving educators a healthier, more direct role in educational policy by inviting former Teachers of the Year to advise Congress on more accurate methods of giving students the edge they need and deserve to reach their academic goals.  Working as a team, policymakers and teachers from varied geographic and educational backgrounds can contribute to implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act to truly engender an educational system that leaves no child behind.

eSchool Solutions offers educators and administrators personalized, innovative professional development for teachers at your fingertips.  Find your strengths when you visit our website at www.eschoolsolutions.com and invest in student success.