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SXSWedu Day 2: Insights on Professional Learning

PD, PLCs, Teacher Readiness, and Transforming Instruction

It’s day 2 at SXSWedu, and we can’t help but notice that one of the hot topics on the tip of everyone’s tongues is “instructional transformation” with regard to professional learning. Supporting educators to make better decisions about EdTech with regard to the future of learning certainly isn’t a new trend, but it’s one that is becoming increasingly critical with the new ESSA law, competency-based learning, professional development, scalability, and the current state of teacher retention. We can all agree that teachers should be empowered. At DreamBox  we see teachers moving beyond facilitators of learning to activators of learning. It’s personalization 2.0.

So what’s it all mean? We curated the best ideas and brightest insights from today’s tremendous panels, meetups, and workshops at SXSWedu to dive deeper into the discussion surrounding professional learning and PD for teachers, which will continue tomorrow on Day 3  at #SXSWedu 2016 with Cultivating Teacher Readiness in Next Gen Learning panel (11 a.m. in Hilton Salon G!) featuring Woodrow Wilson Foundation President and CEO Arthur Levine, The Hechinger Report Editor-in-Chief Liz Willen, Justin Reich from MIT and our own President and CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson. [/tweetable]

Here are our top takeaways about the hot topic of professional learning and support for teachers: 

  • Teachers are overwhelmed and exhausted with options, and none (especially the outmoded “seat time” model) are sticking
  • A shift in culture, one that also changes processes or establishes buy-in, is required for significant transformation of instructional practice
  • Technology is a mechanism to guide teachers to change their behavior
  • Supporting teachers in a thoughtful way is critical to their success, retention, and student achievement

In a panel discussing the differences and challenges of moving from traditional to competency-based learning models, Karen Cator, CEO of Digital Promise discussed how micro-credential platforms in partnership with Bloomboard are changing the way educators collect evidence of their learning, shifting from seat time to demonstrated competence with a “badge” system.  

  • EdTech is fundamental to the support of recent ESSA law, which will make more teacher grants and funding for technology and professional development when it goes into effect next year
  • Making meaning of data is critical in helping teachers understand formative assessment and empowering them in ways to better connect with students in the classroom
  •  A panel covering the new law changes and how it will affect not only EdTech companies but also how educators will have new opportunities as a result of it, David DeSchryner of Whiteboard Advisors noted, “ESSA is one of those laws that is going to blot out the sun.”

    We are excited to pick up more interesting thoughts surrounding this topic tomorrow! You can read more about teacher stress in the workplace and providing professional support to educators here. And don’t forget to follow us @DreamBox_Learn for live coverage of Day 3 at SXSWedu!

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