5 ways ed-tech will transform PD post-COVID

Stimulus funds can enhance teacher observations, feedback and collaboration
By: | April 19, 2021

PD will be a major priority for stimulus in many districts as teachers continue to build their online and hybrid teaching skills.

But superintendents and their teams can also use funding from the American Rescue Plan and the other two stimulus packages to transform how the PD is delivered and how teachers collaborate, says Adam Geller, the founder and CEO of Edthena, which provides video observation and feedback tools.

“The experience of teaching through the pandemic has shown everyone that it’s possible to design and deliver PD opportunities that don’t require someone to head down to a central location and sit in a workshop for two hours on a Tuesday afternoon,” Geller says.

Here are some ways in which superintendents can expect PD to evolve post-COVID:

1. More flexible PD. Just like in online learning for students, teachers will expect to have both synchronous and asynchronous PD sessions. A combination that includes online and video tools will give teachers more time to reflect on their practice and make effective adjustments, Geller says.

2. Everyone’s more comfortable online. Educators’ confidence in teaching online has grown, so they are already ready to learn online. “Compared to a year ago, nearly every educator has been on video—it’s no longer this science fiction idea,” Geller says. “Administrators can build on this newfound confidence in using video beyond supports for student learning.

3. Streamlining feedback. A video-learning platform that cuts out travel time expedites the feedback loop between the principals and coaches doing observations and teachers.

“This is not something different,” Geller says. “This is merely a tech-enabled way to do the things that districts and teachers say are important to helping them have a great impact with their students.”

4. Support is key to retention. Teachers who feel administrators are helping them grow professionally are more likely to stay in their positions. This may be even more urgent as schools recover from COVID.

“This issue has bever been more important than right now when we know teachers are going back to classrooms that will look and feel very different,” Geller says. “To feel like they’re making headway against those challenges, they need to feel supported.”

5. How some districts are using video observation and feedback. Edthena works to adapt its tools to each district’s vision and goals for observation and feedback. Here’s how some districts are using Edthena’s platform:

  • Providing more structure to the teacher mentoring and induction process.
  • Building a districtwide library of best practices.
  • Creating a system of micro-credentials and evidence-based learning activities.
  • Adding to PLCs for a more freeform and organic experience

Ultimately, Geller says, video can fill in the gaps and logistics that have hindered the observation-and-feedback loop in the past.

“The pandemic has revealed that teaching is inherently about being present for your students,” Geller says. “However, it’s really hard to have the right person in the right place at the right time to observe teachers and be a partner for them as they reflect on how to get better.”