Getting ahead: How to make the most of on-demand teacher training

Discover four steps you can follow that will help you make the most of on-demand professional development for teachers.

by Michelle Schweikhardt

Teacher professional development has undergone a transformative shift, moving away from static, one-size-fits-all solutions toward tailored, personalized learning paths that cater to educators’ diverse and specific needs.

While standard, in-person professional development models offer high-quality learning opportunities, the travel, time, and cost limit the number of educators who can participate. Conventional professional development fails to reach the extensive number of teachers who need the skills and support to thrive in today’s ever-evolving classroom environment.

That is where the transformative impact of on-demand teacher training comes in. This approach to professional development puts the power in the hands of educators, allowing them to access high-quality resources, collaboration opportunities, and personalized coaching whenever and wherever they prefer.

Highlight the advantages of on-demand teacher training

Quite frankly, teachers want to be heard and valued. They also want their time to be respected and used efficiently. With on-demand teacher training, administrators can provide high-quality support for growth in tandem with flexibility and customization.

But before signing teachers up for a suite of on-demand professional development, highlight how on-demand teacher training supports their needs and values:

Flexibility—On-demand learning offers teachers the flexibility to learn anytime and anywhere. This honors teachers’ time and preferences, allowing them to participate in learning when and where they prefer.

Cost-effectiveness—On-demand teacher training is typically less expensive than in-person training, as it eliminates the costs of travel, lodging, and instructor fees. School districts can make professional development accessible to a broader range of staff, including teacher assistant training, without breaking the bank.

Increased access to high-quality training—With on-demand teacher training, school districts can offer their teachers access to the best training experts from all over the world. This is beneficial for smaller school districts located in rural areas—but also for larger districts where impacting large staffs with in-person teacher training isn’t feasible.

Customization and personalization—On-demand platforms offer a variety of features that support customization, such as personalized recommendations, learning paths, customized remote coaching, and downloadable resources for teaching.

Pacing—Most people can relate to the pressure of feeling rushed and overwhelmed when trying to take notes and remember everything a speaker says at a live conference. With on-demand teacher training, educators can focus on the information and rewatch sections of recorded on-demand training as needed. Additionally, on-demand training allows teachers to adjust the playback speed to suit their learning needs.

Teacher training programs with continuing education credit—On-demand PD courses for teachers often offer opportunities for participants to earn continuing education credit. Educators can access courses and complete assignments at their own pace. Earning credits while gaining practical skills and knowledge enhances the overall value of on-demand PD, making it an attractive option for educators seeking to advance their professional standing.

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With on-demand teacher training, administrators can provide high-quality support for growth in tandem with flexibility and customization.

How to make the most of on-demand teacher training

On-demand teacher training can be a game-changer thanks to its many advantages. However, administrators cannot simply add it to teachers’ “to-do” lists and expect teachers to reap its benefits.

This style of learning still requires a plan with clear guidelines for implementation. Collaborate with teachers to develop a process for participation to make the most of on-demand teacher training.

Step 1. Set clear learning goals
On-demand teacher training programs often provide tailor-made learning paths that allow teachers to focus on the topics most pertinent to their needs. Work alongside staff to determine which professional development courses align with teachers’ SMART goals.

Step 2. Plan a learning schedule
While on-demand learning can happen anytime and anywhere, school districts can respect teachers’ schedules by allocating time within the school day for professional development. Schools can offer substitute teachers to cover classes, schedule early-release days, or delayed-start days to provide teachers the time they need to complete teacher training while at school.

Allocating time for professional development during the school day also offers an element of accountability for individual educators. Offering teachers the option to complete PD within the school day demonstrates that learning and support are priorities. This can directly impact the collegiality between staff and admin.

School districts can schedule short, incremental learning opportunities throughout the school year using a learning schedule. By setting time aside for on-demand learning, teachers with similar learning paths can participate in learning together.

CompCON 2024

Step 3. Put the learning into practice
Incremental learning through on-demand teacher training provides teachers with bite-sized chunks of information that they can immediately implement in their classrooms. With the on-demand platform, teachers can process new information and develop a plan to use new strategies while learning.

Step 4. Foster teacher collegiality
Teachers can watch on-demand content together or collaborate after watching. Regardless of how the on-demand learning was viewed, encourage teachers to embrace innovation by providing time to synthesize the new learning and participate in online forums and communities.

For example, Smekens Education Solutions offers webPD as an on-demand teacher training program. This video subscription program encompasses all aspects of the learning process, allowing teachers to watch, implement, and share teaching artifacts through online collaboration.

Some professional development companies also offer remote coaching to provide teachers with additional support. By allocating time for collaboration and providing access to collaboration resources, schools facilitate opportunities for teachers to seek feedback and support.

With so many advantages to using on-demand learning, school leaders can help teachers make the most of teacher training programs with a clear learning plan. This puts the power in the hands of educators to access the resources, support, and coaching they need to thrive and lead their students to success.

On-demand teacher training—from Smekens Education

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