A first year teacher feels overwhelmed. A principal needs an evaluation rubric for integrating technology. You're looking for a listing of summer workshops for teachers in your area. Where do you turn? Included: More than a dozen professional development resources for staff developers, new teachers, experienced teachers...
Educators are well known for the mountains of manuals, memos, policy statements, and other paper resources stacked up in their offices, but the next time you need staff development materials, you might want to try surfing the Web instead of rooting through those teetering paper mountains. Why?
Web based resources
- save time. If you know where to look and what you're looking for, using the Web to find just the right template or conference information is much faster than digging through pages and pages of print materials.
- are current and relevant. In education, information and requirements can change minute-to-minute. Why use last year's guidelines or an outdated instructional manual when the U.S. Department of Education or another education agency has updated the materials and posted them on online?
- save you the trouble of reinventing the wheel. Whatever staff development challenge you're facing, chances are someone else already has faced and surmounted it. Using the Web lets you visit other district or school staff development pages and learn from their solutions and resources.
Still need convincing? Take a look at the following essential staff development sites. (And don't miss the tips for using those sites that you'll find at the end of this article!)
- NSDC Staff Development Library
The National Staff Development Council provides dozens of training articles and tools, available to both non-members and members.
- NCREL's Professional Development: Learning from the Best
This exhaustive toolkit for creating and implementing effective professional development opportunities in your school and district are provided by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory.
- Designing Staff Development That Makes a Difference
Kansas North Central Accreditation offers staff developers rubrics and guidelines for creating effective training models in their own schools.
- School Improvement Links
Montgomery County Public Schools Department of Staff Development lists a variety of resources for the administrator or staff developer involved in school improvement initiatives.
- Professional Development
NCREL's (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory) Pathways to School Improvement is an excellent starting point for the new staff developer or for a district or school that wants to evaluate and overhaul its professional development goals and objectives.
- School and Staff Development Resources
In2Edu provides a number of free Microsoft Word templates to download and use in training and program implementation.
- Finding the Time for Staff Development
This insightful and brief position paper on prioritizing professional development is free for download and distribution.
- Online Classes for Teachers
The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse provides free and easy-to-use tutorials for math and science teachers.
- Rapid Response Packets
Sign up to have NCREL's free packets on a variety of topics affecting the administrator or staff developer mailed to you.
- ASCD Education Topics
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development provides this excellent resource. The site introduces a topic such as "differentiated learning," provides a few articles about that topic, and gives further resources for interested readers. This is a great site for a new teacher to begin learning the working vocabulary of the field, and a great site to start when introducing a curricular or instructional initiative.
- New Teacher
A friendly and informative resource for the new teacher, this Scholastic site covers a variety of topics from assessment to lesson planning and more.
- Apple Learning Interchange
Resources at this site include video interviews, case studies, and more, much of it applicable to both PC and Mac users.
- Take a Byte from the Apple
Education World Techtorials are easy-to-follow tutorials for any K-12 teacher or staff member interested in learning a tech skill or integrating technology in the classroom.
- Technology Professional Development
NCREL provides staff developers with tools for creating and assessing technology training at the school or district level.
- NETS*T (National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers)
ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) maintains the most widely recognized set of standards for teachers.
Many of the recommended resources contain links to other Web sites, which link to others, and so forth. It's easy to get overwhelmed by their sheer numbers or, even worse, find a great resource and then later forget where it is and how you got there. To avoid losing valuable resources and to ensure swift searching and job sanity:
- Use the Favorite (Internet Explorer) or Bookmark (Netscape Navigator) feature of your browser to save a URL before you leave the site.
- Take the time to organize a group of sites on a similar topic into one folder in your Favorites or Bookmarks folder.
- If you will be using the resources you find at two or more computers (for example, a home and a work computer), consider using I Keep Bookmarks or Backflip to save those URLs on the Internet instead of on your hard drive. That way, you can access the URLs from any computer in the world with Internet access!
- Did you find a group of sites you want to refer others to? Create a hotlist: Simply create a new Word document containing the sites' URLs or names, highlight a name or URL, go to Insert>Hyperlink, type the URL in the address blank, and click OK. Repeat those steps for each site on your list. Others then can open the document on their own computers and click a link to immediately go to any site on the page! (Be sure to check with a Web site's Webmaster if you wish to download and/or distribute the site's resources, unless that use is specifically approved of in writing on the site. Copying and pasting one site's resource to your site is usually frowned upon, although most sites don't object if you link to their site.)
As usual, start small and pick just one topic at a time to read up on. You'll remember information better if you read it when you need it.