The Benefits of Teacher Autonomy for Professional Learning

The Benefits of Teacher Autonomy (and a Therapy Dog) for Professional Learning edLeader Panel recording screenshot

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A recent edWebinar by edWeb featured a presentation from Princeton Public Schools in New Jersey about the benefits of teacher autonomy and professional learning. The presentation was led by Sarah Moore, the Supervisor of Elementary Education, Dr. Kimberly Tew, the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Lauren Samara, an instructional coach, and MaryEllen Wallauer, a K-2 Instructional Coach.

During the presentation, the team from Princeton Public Schools discussed how they incorporate teacher autonomy into their professional development and how they use edWeb as a resource. They emphasized the importance of treating teachers as professionals and giving them the autonomy and capacity to guide their own professional development. The team also shared how they incorporate joy into their professional development opportunities in partnership with teachers.

The edWebinar was part of edWeb’s PD in Action series, and attendees are able to join the discussion and get updates for future edWebinars in this series by joining the Best Practices for Professional Learning free professional learning community. edWeb’s CE certificates are accepted in 42 states for teacher re-licensure, making it a valuable resource for educators looking to continue their professional growth.

Flex PD is a professional development program offered by Princeton Public Schools that provides teachers with autonomy and wellness through professional learning. The program has three rounds of institutes—summer, fall, and spring. Teachers can attend three hours or six hours of PD during these times, and if they do, they receive release time.

The district has also added edWeb this year to provide more choice for staff members. This program helps the district to promote staff engagement, autonomy, and professional development by giving teachers the freedom to choose the training they need, while still tying it to district goals.

The program is built into the teacher contract and is seen as a low-cost, high-impact initiative that shows the district values its staff and trusts them to make informed decisions about their professional development. The Flex PD program is also beneficial to the district as it can reduce costs in the long run, while still promoting professional development and teacher retention.

Dr. Tew discussed how partnering with edWeb and other organizations has helped her school district in its professional development efforts. edWeb curates edWebinars and other resources that align with the school district’s goals and help the staff focus on their development. Additionally, she mentioned community partnerships, such as with universities and nonprofits, to provide opportunities for the staff to attend sessions and attend classes like the Teachers as Scholars program at TCNJ and Princeton University.

Dr. Tew also mentioned the benefits of virtual professional development and encourages others to find alternative ways to develop teachers as learners, such as taking online courses or participating in international programs.

The panelists discussed the benefits of a coaching program in an educational setting. They highlighted the importance of treating teachers as professionals, providing multiple means and opportunities for teachers to learn and grow, and using tools such as edWeb to support this.

They described how edWeb provides ongoing support for teachers through curating collections of resources and opportunities, making it accessible on teachers’ own time, and helping coaches stay up to date with current trends and topics in education. They also mentioned how they use edWeb to send a monthly coaching newsletter and to give teachers a one-stop shop for resources and information.

Finally, the panelists introduced Tiger, a therapy dog who is in the process of being certified to work with students. Tiger has already been involved in some professional development activities and has been well received by staff and students.

Learn more about this edWeb broadcast, “The Benefits of Teacher Autonomy (and a Therapy Dog) for Professional Learning.”

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