On-Demand Professional Development Collaboration
We’ve all been there: it’s that moment when you realize (gulp) you don’t know what to do. The grade of this hill is just a little too steep. For me one of those moments was in my first year of teaching. It was a specials class of kindergartners who came through my door excited and energetic, but also a little nervous about a new room and teacher. As we started into the lesson I had planned, their nerves eased and their excitement and curiosity spilled over…all over. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life. When their awe-inspiring classroom teacher walked back through the door (had she sprouted wings and a halo in the past 30 minutes?) I was so relieved – I felt as if the cavalry had arrived. I waved and smiled as they filed out the door – and then sat down and cried. Yes, I cried. In that moment I realized I needed help. I needed a whole new set of classroom management skills – and I needed them before next Tuesday when those sweet kindergartners would return!
Professional growth is a continuous process; sometimes it is driven by urgent need (as in the case of my kindergartners), but more often it is the result of reflection on our practice and a growing awareness of areas in which we can improve. Professionals who practice regular self-assessment and reflection also need a source for learning and engaging with new ideas and methods – and keeping up with educational practice and trends can be a challenge of its own! That’s why ACSI Professional Development is working to support and equip Christian educators through services like ConNEXUS Premium.
ACSI ConNEXUS Premium provides on-demand professional development for Christian educators. With over 500 hours of content and 40 channels based on educational topics, educators are equipped with individualized professional development in the areas where they have need. Full access to all of the content means that you can continue learning as you recognize new areas for growth – and perhaps even become aware of practices and ideas you’ve not encountered before.
Individualized doesn’t mean alone, though. We know that adults learn best when they have the opportunity to collaborate with peers as they engage with and apply new concepts to their own practice. We encourage you to think about how you and your colleagues can help one another reflect and grow.
What could this look like? Consider flipping your next school in-service. ConNEXUS Premium’s administrator dashboard provides the tools for school leaders to “assign” courses to educators – either a few teachers or an entire staff. When staff can view a course on their own, in the time most convenient for them, before an in-service, the in-service time can then be used to engage together on how new concepts can be applied specifically in your classrooms and school. Another option would be for your department or team to view and discuss courses together. Or your instructional leader could follow up classroom observations with recommendations for courses to help the classroom teacher address areas of potential growth.
ConNEXUS Premium supports growth for individual educators learning and growing in community and is one example of how ACSI is seeking to equip Christian educators through professional development. This fall, ACSI professional development forums will provide a venue for Christian educators to come together with colleagues to learn from educational leaders and share their expertise presenting their successes and collaborating with peers. It’s two-handed professional development, one hand bringing your experience and knowledge and one hand being filled with new ideas and practices.
ACSI appreciates our CSI colleagues serving the Kingdom through Christian education, and if we can support and equip you as co-laborers we want to do just that. If you are interested in subscribing to ConNEXUS Premium or attending a forum this fall, we invite you to join us with ACSI member rates for CSI educators. Visit acsi.org or contact ACSI Member Care (800.367.0798) for more information – fall pricing and subscriptions open in May 2017.
Guest post by: Shannon Bomar, professional development director for Association of Christian Schools International
Shannon has spent her career in library and education services. She is a graduate of Oklahoma Christian University and completed her master’s and PhD at University of North Texas. Most recently, she has served on staff at Association of Christian Schools International as a virtual content specialist and now the director for professional development.