Professional Development for Teachers During the Pandemic

By Brian Soika

May 7, 2021

Educators talk about complex issues at a table in a school, highlighting the need for professional development for teachers

Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages, licensed under Creative Commons

Is there a typical job description for teachers in 2021?

Over the past year, educators have had to assume a variety of new responsibilities. Whether it’s trying to teach remotely during a pandemic, or navigating discussions about the historic civil rights events of 2020, the scope of instruction continues to expand.  

However, in a survey conducted in fall 2020, Educators for Excellence-Los Angeles and USC Rossier found that K-12 educators reported a lack of professional support and guidance for teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of which still persist. 

Professional development for teachers can be an effective solution, but research shows that schools need to provide support in order for them to participate. 

 
Here are three types of professional development that may help educators meet the demands of their evolving job descriptions. 

Ongoing Technology Training

From video conferencing to online feedback, teachers have adapted to the technological demands of distance learning. However, many had to learn on the job due to a lack of training. And while they may be used to it, technology can still be challenging, especially for those working with the most vulnerable students. 

Even when the pandemic subsides, many school districts report that they will continue to offer some form of remote learning. Ongoing professional development can address pain points, introduce teachers to more efficient tools, and make technology a welcome enhancement to instruction rather than a hurdle to overcome. 

Student Mental Health Support

As student mental health has declined throughout the pandemic, educational researchers and experts have called for schools to directly address stress in the classroom. The benefits include emotional relief and an increased sense of trust in their teachers and schools. 

While this approach may be effective, it requires teachers to acquire additional skills. This is where schools can offer support. 

A report by the independent research center PACE on how schools can rebuild from the pandemic recommends that “school staff should receive training and support on trauma-informed and healing-centered approaches for reengaging students in the classroom.”

Race and Equity Training

Race is a complex and sensitive topic. To ensure that teachers can successfully moderate discussions about it, districts and schools should provide all educators with professional learning experiences, according to the PACE report. 

These experiences can encourage teachers to reflect on their own identities and biases, and provide tools for addressing topics such as racism and privilege in their classrooms. 

PACE references organizations such as Learning for Justice and ADL for professional development resources in race, equity and anti-bias training.  

 

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