Personalized Professional Development for Early Childhood Educators
- Christi Gonzales, PreK Teacher, Early Interventionist and District 4 Representative for the Louisiana Early Childhood Association, @ChristiTeach
- Jenifer Morack, Program Director – Early Childhood Learning Communities edWeb.net @JenMorack
In this week’s interview on Education Talk Radio, hosted by edWeb.net, Christi Gonzales, PreK Teacher, Early Interventionist and District 4 Representative for the Louisiana Early Childhood Association, discusses how early childhood educators can find and personalize their own professional development to enhance what the schools and districts provide.
Christi has been an early childhood educator for 19 years but has been teaching at the Chitimacha Tribal School for the last two. The Chitimacha Tribal School is a BIE school (Bureau of Indian Education). She finds working at the school very fulfilling as they have a high quality faculty and lots of opportunity for PD.
Building personalized professional development as become more popular in recent years as teachers are motivated to seek out opportunities for many reasons. Due to budgetary constraints in the schools, changing state requirements, improvement in technologies and a host of other reasons, schools cannot keep up with the growing PD requirements of their teachers. Therefore, it is left up to the individual teacher to find the professional development opportunities that meet their individual needs. Most teachers find and create their own PD through a number of different vehicles:
- Local, State and National Conferences
- School supplied workshops
- Teacher shared resources
- Colleges and Universities
Christi feels that there are as many reasons that teachers are reaching out past the school walls such as difficulties in getting to conferences due to the timing and costs involved, schools can find time only to do PD on new curriculum or programs required by the board, or there is a limited knowledge base at school for current trends and technologies.
In order to expand upon the resources provided by her school and district. Christi is a pro at building her own personalized professional development. In addition to local and state conferences, Christi has used edWeb personally for her own PD and recommends it to her colleagues as a great resource.
edWeb.net provides wonderful professional learning communities for early learning educators where experts, education leaders and teachers share the latest and most current trends in education.
Jenifer Morack shared how edWeb.net, with the assistance of it’s partners, is bringing together educators, education leaders, professors, and experts together in collaborative communities to help early childhood educators share information and ideas with peers and thought leaders in the industry. Each community focuses on a topic of education and hosts a professional development webinar each month allowing teachers to gain skills, knowledge and resources to support them in the classroom. Teachers receive CE Certificates after viewing a webinar. Below is a list of the early childhood learning communities sponsored by edWeb’s partners:
- PreK-3 Digital Learning, sponsored by AWE Learning
- Early Childhood Learning Solutions, sponsored by Frog Street Press
- Arts & Music in Early Learning, sponsored by Music Together
- Early Learning Book Chats, sponsored by Gryphon House
Christi presented a webinar to the Digital Learning Solutions for PreK-3 community on edWeb in January 2014, Building a PLN for your Early Childhood Classroom. She shared the importance of developing your own PLN (Personal Learning Network). Christi focused on a variety of educational applications and websites that educators can use in their lessons. She shared tips and tricks for stretching a limited technology budget, and gave examples of websites that are FREE. Attendees also learned how to locate materials through social media for educational purposes and use them for professional development purposes and instruction in the classroom.
Larry Jacobs wondered if professional development can be too personalized? If everyone is doing their own thing, can teachers be too disconnected and could it be bad for the school? Jenifer Morack felt that the nature of the teaching profession creates a collaborative culture and that most teachers, when finding a solid resource, will share it with other teachers.
Christi stated that although teachers are tugged and pulled in different directions to meet state requirements, creating a personalized PD for yourself allows you to reach out to get what you need for your students and yourself as an educator. It can be difficult when you’re sitting in a school mandated PD when it doesn’t apply to your needs. As far as edWeb.net, Christi finds it is convenient, self-pacing, free, and allows teachers to engage, collaborate and communicate with other teachers around the country. Teachers using the on-line communities share resources with one another. It’s so satisfying.
Original Air-date: 01/20/2015
Hosted by Larry Jacobs of Education Talk Radio.
Listen to the interview below.